Playing without their top scorer, Jayden Coelho, who transferred mid-year to another high school, the Oakdale Mustangs varsity boys basketball team dropped a 57-54 non-league nailbiter to the visiting Livermore Cowboys in the Mustang Arena on Saturday, Jan. 7.
Fired up by first quarter three-point field goals by Jacob Cavanaugh and Cooper Pitney and inside shooting by Niko Klose and Bryson Boyd, the Mustangs held a narrow 14-13 lead at the end of the first stanza. The Cowboys came out firing in the second period, however, and outscored the Mustangs 22-15, despite two big three-point goals by Cavanaugh, to take a 35-29 lead into the locker room at halftime. The visiting Cowboys extended their lead on the strength of nifty shooting by junior Joey Williams (three treys and 15 points) to 49-42 at the end of the third period, despite a nine-point quarter by Klose, including a big three pointer.
On the strength of treys from sophomore Gavin Wyatt, who had been brought up to the varsity with the loss of Coelho, and Pitney (three treys, nine points), and tough all-around play by Klose and Cavanaugh, the Mustangs cut the Cowboy lead to just three points with 30 seconds to play. Forced to foul, the Mustangs sent Cowboy Elijah Stewart to the free throw line for a one-on-one with just under five seconds to play. Stewart missed his front-end shot, but the Mustangs were unable to get the ball up court for a shot before the buzzer, rendering the final score of 57-54 in favor of Livermore.
Klose led all scorers with 20 points. Cavanaugh chipped in 11, including three treys. In total, the Mustangs recorded eight three-point field goals on the evening, compared to seven for Livermore.
On Friday evening, Jan. 6, the Mustangs opened their 2023 Valley Oak League campaign by dropping a 64-30 decision to the Manteca Buffaloes in Manteca. On Tuesday, the Mustangs had absorbed a 58-35 non-league road loss to the Enochs Eagles from Modesto.
Opening up Valley Oak League play at home on Thursday, Jan. 5, it was a 59-29 loss to Manteca for the varsity Lady Mustangs on the basketball court. They took a 12-7 lead after one but trailed 22-20 at the half. The visiting Lady Buffaloes put away Oakdale in the second half, outscoring them 37-9 over the third and fourth quarters.
Earlier, the girls wrapped up preseason play with a 38-20 win on the home court, Jan. 3, hosting Pitman.
They are scheduled to play at Central Catholic on Jan. 12.
The JV girls took a win, 24-23, over Tracy in non-league play on Jan. 7, earlier dropping an 18-15 decision to Pitman in non-league action on Jan. 3.
After a successful 8-0 preseason, the real challenge began on a successful note for Oakdale’s varsity Lady Mustangs on the soccer pitch. They took on the Valley Oak League defending champion (six straight titles) Sierra Timberwolves … and came away with a 2-0 victory.
“Oakdale girls varsity didn’t cancel trainings over the holiday school break, practicing in cold and rainy mornings, doing fitness and scrimmaging the JV boys,” noted head coach Kico Monares. “Oakdale is determined to turn things around.”
Oakdale put the pressure right away to Sierra in the first half of the season opener on Friday, Jan. 6, pressing and setting the tempo. Claire McGee Brown was able to get a corner kick in the fourth minute.
“Kyndra Obermeyer with a left footed corner hit a perfect cross to Trista French with a header goal to put Oakdale ahead 1-0,” noted Monares.
Obermeyer tallied the second goal, also in the first half, after beating the goalie in a foot race to a ball that was tapped back to the Sierra keeper by a teammate; Obermeyer was a little faster and she was able to tap it in after getting to the ball a split second ahead of the goalie. The goal came at the 25-minute mark and it was pressure from Kyra Binstock, on the back line of Sierra, that prompted the defender to play it back to her goalie, but the move backfired as Obermeyer got the goal.
There was no scoring in the second half, so Oakdale got the shutout, with great play in net.
“Goalkeeper Avery Alves played 80 minutes of great soccer in the goal, she had five key saves and kept a shutout. Avery had three amazing saves the first half and two in the second,” Monares said. “In the second half, Oakdale’s work ethic and physicality was too much for Sierra to handle. As several opportunities occurred on both sides, the defensive team pressure was too much for Sierra. Starting with our whole back line (Sophie Peterson, Monica Luna, Lyndee Cox, Jocelyn Gradilla), these girls are tough to beat one on one and are very organized, midfield controlled by Trista French and Kyleigh Melconian and the relentless pressure from our forwards and attacking midfield.”
The girls are scheduled to host Central Catholic on Jan. 11 then travel to Manteca on Jan. 18.
They had earlier wrapped up the preseason with a 2-1 win over Ripon on Jan. 3.
Both the varsity and JV boys have started their Valley Oak League campaigns with a pair of losses.
The varsity took a 3-1 loss on the road at Sierra on Tuesday, Jan. 3 and fell at home to East Union on Thursday, Jan. 5 by a 5-2 final. Against Sierra, Christopher Diaz had the goal. Scoring against East Union were Abraham Isidro, goal and assist; and Alfredo Fernandez with a goal.
At the JV level, it was an 8-1 road loss at Sierra on Jan. 3; Jaime Silva netting the goal with an assist from Sebastian Soto, and they were shut out by East Union, 5-0.
The boys will travel to Manteca for a Jan. 12 game, then will be home to host Kimball on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Sports Correspondent Pete Simoncini contributed to this report.