For the Oakdale Mustang boys basketball program, Wednesday night was full of mixed emotions. The freshman boys played physical but fell short, 44-41, to visiting Weston Ranch to kick off the trio of contests on Feb. 5. That was followed up by a lackluster performance from the Junior Varsity team, the squad losing 60-30. However, the night was salvaged with a 61-50 victory put up by the varsity boys.
It was just three weeks ago when the Mustangs traveled to Stockton to take on Weston Ranch and took a 54-43 loss, a loss that they would look to avenge at home Wednesday night.
Prior to tipoff, varsity coach Jeremy Fields had three goals in place to help the team secure the victory.
“We need to win the rebounding game, on both sides. They’re a physical team and we cannot give up second chance shots to them,” Fields explained. “We must control the tempo of the game. They’re a very fast team and we cannot give up easy fast break points. Finally, we must limit the points in the paint, and from beyond the arc. If they’re going to beat us, they will have to do it with midrange jumpers, and free throws.”
The Mustangs got the message and did just that, following the coach’s game plan and earning the victory.
In the opening quarter the Mustangs buckled down and played tight defense, giving up only seven points to take a 12-7 lead after the first frame. The Mustangs had a slim 21-19 halftime lead. Then the offense came alive for both teams in the third quarter and Weston Ranch took a 36-35 lead into the final quarter.
Though trailing with just one eight-minute period to play, the fourth quarter belonged to Oakdale. The game was tied at 39 with seven minutes to play. Junior Shane Baxter broke the tie with a layup and foul to complete the 3-point play and give Oakdale a 42-39 lead. Everybody got involved during crunch time. Sophomore Adam Olsen, who had 10 points in the contest, contributed on both sides of the court making clutch free throws and playing dominant defense. With four minutes to play the Mustangs had just a 43-42 lead. After a Weston Ranch timeout, the Mustangs went on a 7-0 run capped off by an Austin “Archie” Archuleta offensive rebound and put back for the score to take a 50-42 lead with 2:50 remaining. Archuleta had 11 points on the night. The Weston Ranch Cougars then went on a run of their own, outscoring Oakdale 8-3 to trim the lead to 53-50 Oakdale with just 1:38 left in the ball game. A pair of key free throws by junior Octavio Padilla second later gave the Mustangs a 55-50 lead and they never looked back as they ended the game on an 8-0 run.
After the game sophomore Olsen said of the victory “We knew we had to force them into bad shots down the stretch. We took them out of their comfort zone.”
Senior Austin Archuleta added: “It was a group effort tonight. We have four games remaining and we need to take them one game at a time.”
He also offered advice for the underclassmen that will be joining the team next season: “Make yourself better during the offseason. Help make your teammates get better each time they step on the court.”
Coach Fields was all smiles after the hard effort on Wednesday night paid off
“As a team we did what we set out to do,” the coach said. “We limited their shots; we valued the ball by not committing turnovers and won the rebounding game. Most games are won in the paint, and tonight we were aggressive in the paint.”
On Friday night, the Mustangs hit the road and lost a 71-49 decision to the Jaguars of Kimball High School, ending the week with a 4-7 mark in VOL play with three games to go.
They are scheduled to travel to Lathrop for a Wednesday night game, Feb. 12, then are home to host rival Sonora for the last time as a VOL opponent as part of Winter Homecoming festivities in the Mustang gym this Friday night, Feb. 14. Their final game of the season will be at Manteca next week.