If progress is measured in forward steps, then the marching of Oakdale High’s girls basketball teams has set the tone for success in the coming seasons. Oakdale’s varsity squad stayed competitive in the second of a grueling Valley Oak League pace while Oakdale’s junior varsity team erupted to 18 total wins and a third place finish in the conference standings.
Lady Mustangs at all three levels closed the books on the 2011-12 season with valiant efforts against Lathrop and Sonora to end the year.
Despite only seven girls participating on the active roster, Oakdale rallied to 19 second half points and finished respectable in a 51-29 loss to Sonora on Friday.
The Mustangs trailed Lathrop just 23-17 at the half two days prior, but watched 19-10 and 12-6 Lathrop rallies give the Spartans a 54-33 lead for good.
The losses dropped Oakdale to an 0-14 finish in the ultra-tough Valley Oak League and 4-22 overall. Three VOL teams will host playoff games this year and five total have qualified for the postseason. When the best teams in the league are 24-3 Manteca, 22-4 East Union, 20-7 East Union and 19-8 Kimball, wins are intensely difficult to come by.
“There is no doubt these girls were a lot better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning,” Oakdale coach Justin Schwitters said. “I would have loved to have some more wins on that record, but our league was really tough and we had a long ways to go to compete with those top level teams.
“It was a real gauntlet to go through.”
Oakdale graduates seniors Ashley Edwards, Jordan Esparza, Blanca Lara and Korinna Noordeweir. The four gave Oakdale a shot at Lathrop during Senior Night on Thursday, but Lathrop’s second half production proved too much to overcome.
“I think things are going to get a lot better going forward,” Schwitters said. “We are going to get after it in the middle of March and get in the gym and work.”
The three-girl scoring-tandem of Christina Cobarruvias, Hanna Holland and Summer Anderson led Oakdale to an 18-8 overall finish and third place mark in league after a 9-5 conference record.
The three capitalized on terrific production from post players Hannah Hanko and Jessica Vasquez, while utilizing spells from a deep bench that contributed across the floor.
The team rallied to a win over Lathrop on Thursday and fell by 14 points to second-place Sonora a day later. The contests concluded a successful season that started with three straight tournament trophies and culminated with hard-fought wins in a tough conference lineup.
“You could tell they were a talented team right from the beginning,” Oakdale coach Murrell Esparza said. “We had a lot of girls on the bench who came in and gave us some strong minutes when we really needed them. You don’t win 18 games without having entire team efforts and the girls really embraced that.”
Oakdale was third at the Los Banos Tournament, second in the Ceres Tourney and landed the consolation championship in Stockton. The JV Lady Mustangs averaged over 41 points a game and surrendered only 31 points per game to opposing teams.
The Oakdale freshmen played tough in their final home contest during a 43-29 loss to Lathrop, The girls led Lathrop 6-4 after a period but fell behind after 12-6 Lathrop runs in both of the next two quarters. Alexis Tidball scored nine points for Oakdale while Caylie O’Neal added six. Dylanie Donahue and Anna Perrone each chipped in four points while Abrianna Munoz and Cherish Harlan added three apiece.
“Our overall team effort had been much improved lately,” Oakdale coach Gary Smith said. “They have been rebounding and playing well together.”