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One Win For Mustang Varsity Hoops In Rotary Classic
j kettering
Going up to send off the shot, senior Jake Kettering was the leading scorer for the varsity Mustangs in the Rotary Holiday Classic game against Bear Creek, putting in 16 points. Photo By Jeff Kettering

In the first game of the 2021 Oakdale-Rotary Holiday Classic basketball tournament, the Oakdale Mustang varsity overcame a 10-0 early first quarter deficit to overtake and hold off the Johansen Vikings from Modesto by the final score of 55-52. The Mustangs of head coach Ryan Berg showed great patience in the latter stages of the first stanza and throughout the second quarter to whittle down the Viking lead and eventually overtake them to lead 30-26 at halftime. Leading the Mustangs in the first half were Charles Cripe, who hit two key three-pointers, Landon Nunes, and Johnathan Kraude.

The second half became a tense see-saw battle. The Mustangs, however, were able to work the ball inside to centers Jackson Holt (10 points) and Jacob Guinard (six points) for some tough points around the hoop, and benefitted from three-pointers from Nunes and Kraude and key free throw shooting by Cripe to nail home the 3-point victory.

Kraude had a team high 14 points, Jayden Coelho had 12 and Nunes and Holt each had 10.

The athleticism of the Thomas Downey Knights from Modesto was too much for the Mustangs on the second night of the Holiday Classic as the Knights blasted the Mustangs 66-46 to drop the Mustangs to the third-place game on the final night of the tournament. Following a tight first quarter (15-12 Downey), the Knights opened up a 10-point lead at the end of the first half. In the third quarter, the Knights outscored the Mustangs 24-8 to ensure the win. The Mustangs were led by Landon Nunes’ 19 points, which included three 3-pointers, and Johnathan Kraude’s 12 points (two 3-pointers.)

On the final night of the tournament, the Mustangs came out on the short end of a 60-50 decision to the Bear Creek Bruins from Stockton. As had the Downey Knights the evening before, the Bruins presented the Mustangs with a very quick and athletic opponent and they used that athleticism, mixed with a balanced scoring attack, to slowly pull away from the Mustangs. The Mustangs battled back in the fourth period behind seniors Jake Kettering and Johnathan Kraude, to cut the cut the deficit to ten points before the final buzzer.

Kettering had his best game of the tournament scoring 16 points, including two 3-pointers and playing gritty defense. Kraude chipped in 14 points, including three 3-pointers and did an excellent job of ball-handling, particularly in the fourth quarter, when the Mustangs outscored the Bruins 17-12. In the second half, senior center Jackson Holt hit some key inside shots, scoring 6 of his 8 points, and throughout the game All Tournament selection, senior Landon Nunes, who had one three-pointer in the game, asserted himself with great defensive hustle and tough play under the boards.

Overall in the 50th Annual Oakdale-Rotary Holiday Classic, the Downey Knights edged the Ripon Christian Knights 52-49 to be crowned champions of the tournament in the Mustang Arena on Dec. 30. The Bret Harte Bullfrogs defeated the Hughson Huskies 67-36 to win the Consolation Bracket.

In the Junior Varsity championship game, Bret Harte defeated the Cougars of Golden Valley High School from Merced 58-48. Earlier the Oakdale Mustang Colts had defeated the Atwater Falcons for third place in the Junior Varsity tournament and Oakdale’s William Mitchell was name to the All-Tournament Team. He joined varsity player Landon Nunes as the host school’s All-Tournament honorees.

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Junior varsity player Carson Lamb fights his way toward the hoop during tournament play over the holiday break. Oakdale’s JV team finished third in the Rotary Holiday Classic. Photo By Jeff Kettering