After four years of dedication to Oakdale High’s boys basketball program, the 2011-12 Oakdale High seniors were determined not to go quietly into the night during their final game in a Mustang uniform on Friday.
All five Mustang seniors converted thrilling fourth-quarter baskets to stay at Sonora’s heels during a hard-fought 51-46 home loss to the playoff bound Wildcats.
“Coach (Jeremy Fields) told us to go out there and give it our best,” senior Vince Fauria said. “It was great to battle with Sonora and it felt good to be in that kind of game.”
Fauria ignited the Oakdale crowd when his three-point buzzer beater sliced the net to bring the Mustangs within four points at the end of the third quarter. He fed fellow senior Justin Martinez a clever dish at the hoop to start the fourth and scored himself just seconds later for a 31-29 deficit with under seven minutes to play.
Martinez put-backs twice tied the game in the next three minutes, but Sonora pulled ahead with hot shooting beyond the arc. Senior Marcus Hernandez responded with a dazzling trey of his own from the top of the key to bring Oakdale within two points at the 3:15 mark. Fauria and classmate Nathan Van Ryn kept the comeback alive with three points each in a minute of play, but Sonora converted all of their late free throws to cruise ahead in the final moments. An exciting lay-up from four-year player Manny Hernandez gave Oakdale its final points of the game, but the Mustang seniors couldn’t beat the clock in their final performance.
“All of those five seniors brought the level of commitment to this program that we need from everyone,” Fields said. “We want the kids to play and enjoy this game and tonight we had fun.”
The loss signaled an end to a 2-12 run through the extremely tough Valley Oak League, which qualified five teams to the postseason.
Oakdale’s Martinez led both teams in scoring with 18 points and was a dominant force at the hoop despite the rare sightings of post players that eclipsed his six foot, five inch frame. Sonora’s tenacious zone defense is patrolled by the likes of 6-8 Tayler Thompson, 6-6 Mark Relei and 6-6 Ben Bates.
“It was a challenge, but we hustled,” Martinez said. “I was trying to go hard in my last game and I was really sad we didn’t get a win, but I got the chance to play with my teammates, my family and that’s all that matters.”
Fauria drained three treys and finished with 11 points in the loss. Van Ryn closed with three points while Manny and Marcus Hernandez each netted five points and a lone three-pointer. Josh Watts chipped in four points for Oakdale.
Fields said Oakdale would return to the weight room in preparation for next year when the students return to school on Feb. 27. The basketball program will prepare for the 2012-13 season with spring and summer contests against the area’s better teams.
“Its all about skill development for us, and the only way you develop those skills is by playing games and practicing,” Fields said.
Austin Archuletta scored 16 points as Oakdale challenged Sonora in a 54-49 loss at home on Friday. The JV Mustangs outscored Sonora 29-24 in the second half, but had trouble erasing a 10-point deficit after two quarters.
“This was probably our most complete game,” Oakdale coach Chad Jackson said. “As a team I see these kids improving.”
Kyle Osborn and Nick McElmurry each scored six points for Oakdale while Abel Munoz chipped in 10. Will Larsen tallied two points while Wyatt Hammond added three.
McElmurry was rolling on the momentum of a 12-point effort against Lathrop during a 44-39 loss on Tuesday. Archuletta and Tyler Williams scored five points apiece in the loss while Munoz and Osborn added four each. Milton Obispo and Chris Davis each nabbed two points.
Oakdale finished 1-13 in the VOL.