Led by junior Jayden Coelho and senior Niko Klose, the Oakdale Mustangs varsity boys basketball team won two of three games to finish third in the 51st Annual Oakdale-Rotary Holiday Basketball Classic. Games were played Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 28 through Dec. 30 in the Mustang Arena on the Oakdale High School campus.
Coelho scored a total of 70 points, including 12 three pointers, in the tournament to earn the Norm Antinetti Award as the tournament’s top scorer. Klose, on the strength of 34 points and incredible hustle in two games (he did not play in the third game due to an injury), joined Coelho on the All-Tournament Team.
In the opening round, the Mustangs of head coach Ryan Berg, while looking sloppy at times, were able to prevail over the Johansen Vikings from Modesto by the score of 56-44. Coelho hit a trio of three-pointers in the second half and five in the game, most of which were of the monster category (NBA length), to lead all scorers in the game and on the tournament’s first day with 21 points. Klose and Bryson Boyd chipped in 12 and 11 points respectively as the Mustangs advanced into the championship bracket.
The Mustangs played perhaps their strongest game of the season on the second night of the tournament, although they dropped a 65-64 decision to the eventual tournament champions, the Delta Kings of Amos Alonzo Stagg High School from Stockton. Klose recorded 16 points in the first half, including four three-pointers, as the Mustangs trailed the much bigger Delta Kings by two at the intermission. In the second half, the teams waged a seesaw battle that kept fans on the edge of their seats. Led by Coelho’s 17 second half points, including two treys (he finished with 27 total points), and outstanding team defense against a talented opponent, the Mustangs were able to take an early second half lead. In the end, however, All-Tournament selectee Andrew Johnson of the Delta Kings was deadly from beyond the three-point line, recording seven treys and 30 total points to lead the Stagg offense. Johnson’s effort was complemented by 15 points from All-Tournament selectee Ronald Green and 13 points from the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Joshua Chavez, to record the one-point victory.
On Friday evening, the Mustangs faced off for third place against the Ripon Indians and came away with a 52-44 win. Senior Cooper Pitney filled in superbly for the injured Klose as the Mustangs held on to one-point leads at the end of both the opening quarter and the first half. The Indians were able to tie the score at 34 at the end of the third period, but then Coelho (four three-pointers and 22 total points) and sophomore Jacob Cavanaugh (three treys and 13 total points) were able to hit key outside shots complemented by excellent inside play by Bryson Boyd, Sigfried Stephens, Tyler Cooley and Pitney to emerge with the eight-point win.
The JV boys started off the three-day tournament with a 65-47 loss to Atwater on Dec. 28. They would also face Stagg and meet Bret Harte in the consolation championship, losing that game to the Bullfrogs on Friday. Final scores for the Thursday and Friday contests were not available.