A last-moment three-pointer gave Downey High’s varsity girls basketball team brief hope for a late comeback, but Oakdale maintained the final possession for a 40-37 victory over the host Knights on Friday. The win improved Oakdale to 3-4 in non-league action with a solid 255-280 scoring differential between opponents. The games have been a nice way to open the year after blowout losses of 20 or more points in five of Oakdale’s last games of the 2010-11 season.
“There has been some negativity in the program in years past, and we are just trying to change the culture of negativity,” first year coach Justin Schwitters said. “They had games where they lost by 50 points and were shutout in an entire half, and we are trying to change the mindset where that’s going to happen.
“Skill-wise they are a lot better than they give themselves credit for.”
The team had a good opportunity to even their record during a Dec. 20 showdown at Escalon (4-5), but results were not available at press time. Oakdale made the best of their contest with Downey after a 12-4 second quarter rally gave the team a 19-10 lead at the half. Downey outscored Oakdale 17-14 in the third quarter and 10-7 in the fourth, but couldn’t fully close the gap.
“We handled the ball pressure and played better on-ball defense,” Schwitters said. “Defensively we held them to 10 points in the first half and allowed 27 in the second half, but we made them earn everything.”
Ashley Edwards led Oakdale with an impressive 6 for 6 effort from the foul line and 14 total points. Blanca Lara converted six of her nine free throw attempts and scored 12 while Kylie Gust put up seven points. Mackenzie Ruthman scored three while Jordan Esparza and Francesca Orvis each tallied two points. Oakdale had nine different girls on the floor in the first four minutes of the game and saw a healthy rotation from a squad that numbers just 10 players.
“We are making a lot of progress,” Schwitters said. “We talk about competing in practice and in the game working hard.
“At the end of the day, people who work hard deserve an opportunity to play.”