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Queen Of The Court - Clark And Co. Ready For Big Season
12-22 OAK G-BB prev1
Oakdale High senior Cassandra Clark is back to lead the Lady Mustang scoring attack in her final year on the prep court. - photo by Photo illustration by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER
Onlookers at this year’s powder puff football game will remember a speedy No. 8 on the senior/sophomore team that sprinted, dodged and passed her way to touchdown after touchdown across The Corral’s artificial turf.
She looked about as comfortable as possible in a football jersey, but that playmaking quarterback was none other than Mustang senior and basketball standout, Cassandra Clark.
“That was so much fun,” Clark said, recalling her gridiron glory. “I always have fun doing any sport, and it was fun to get out there and have a good time.”
The former avid skateboarder, former volleyball player and current off-season surfer is about as athletic as any high school girl can be, but her true talent isn’t revealed until December.
Clark is the reigning All Valley Oak League MVP, an honor that will be nearly impossible to strip from her as she charges in to the 2010-11 season on a full head of steam.
“It’s been fun watching her grow and get better each year,” Oakdale coach Gary Smith said. “She is still the hardest working girl on the team, which is a tribute to her passion for the game.”
Oakdale lost sharp ball handler Carley Barton and lanky rebounder Alanna Jones to graduation, and saw its post play take a hit when Dominique Powell elected to play club volleyball instead of basketball.
But the Mustangs also gained some bright talents from the JV level, and lucked out when Cassandra’s twin sister, Kelsey Clark, opted to join the team.
The new line-up means Oakdale should have all the guard talent it needs with some added height and strength in rebound situations. The team is also incredibly deep, sporting a bench capable of big boards and scores thus far this year.
“It’s nice because no one has to stay in when they are tired,” Clark said. “We can get some fresh legs out there and they do really well.”
Clark’s legs have withstood some court travel all ready this year in action with Oakdale’s summer league program in Ceres and her own success with the Modesto Magic Elite, an Amateur Athletic Union team coached by Modesto Christian’s Robb Spencer.
She led Oakdale to a 19-9 showing last year and 1-1 stanza in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Clark scored a game-high 23 points against Livingston to launch Oakdale into a showdown with St. Mary’s, but the Rams took a 109-43 victory.
St. Mary’s went on to win their next seven games, the last an 89-41 throttling of Bishop Amat for a state championship.
Oakdale finished fourth in league behind big seasons from East Union (14-2), Sonora (11-5) and Manteca (10-6). This year, East Union appears primed for another run after a 4-1 start and win over Division IV power, Ripon. Manteca is also 4-1, while Sierra (4-2) and Weston Ranch (3-3) should also be tough.
“I’m very excited about this year,” Clark said. “If we try really hard we can get a VOL title this year.
“All the teams are very close, so we just have to work hard.”
Oakdale (2-3) nabbed their second win of the season after a 46-20 rout of Downey on Friday. Clark sat out most of the second half, but scored 19 points in limited action.
Ashley Edwards, a savvy post player, grabbed a season high 17 points in the win. Kelsey Clark also scored seven.
Oakdale played without point guard Naydee Fernandez, who is out until January with a knee injury. Fernandez was spectacular at times last season, and will join Blanca Lara on a speedy set at the top of the key.
“I just want to make my knee feel better and recover so I can come back,” Fernandez said on Friday. “It’s really tough to just sit here and watch when I am used to running up and down the court.”