The Yosemite High varsity girls basketball team (6-3) won the championship of the 12-team Hoover Holiday Tournament with a 58-36 victory in the finals over the previously undefeated Sierra Pacific Golden Bears.
Sierra Pacific returned its top players from last year’s Central Section D-IV Championship team but was pummeled by the Badgers in the first quarter behind four 3-point shots by Grace Fries.
That effort got Yosemite off to a commanding 19-8 lead which was extended with every quarter. Fries, a junior, who was celebrating her 16th birthday, scored 29 points in the game and finished the game with six made 3-point shots on 10 attempts, the last one including a foul, resulting in a rare 4-point play as she swished the free throw.
Hailey Rich, another junior, earned All-Tournament honors with a 10 point, 8 rebound game in the finals capping a solid four game effort. A third junior, point guard Lilly Graffigna, also made the All-Tournament team and had 14 assists in the tournament championship game.
The Badgers made their way to the championship game with a solid 74-32 victory over Monache, a team which won the tournament meeting with Yosemite last season but was upset by the Badgers in the CIF playoff quarter-finals.
Fries had 20 points while senior Allison Bernardi had a career high 13 points, including 5 of 6 from the free throw line. Junior Sophie McGoldrick had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Rich dominated the boards getting 14 rebounds.
In pool play, Yosemite beat Reedley, coached by Yosemite 2002 graduate and former coach Matt Wilkinson, 49-21, with Rich scoring 20 points and Fries contributing 14.
The other pool game was a 70-47 win over Roosevelt with Fries again leading the way with 25 points, with Rich and Graffigna adding 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Yosemite, the second smallest school in the tournament by enrollment, dominated with winning margins of 23, 28, 42 and 22 points. In the four games, Yosemite outscored its four opponents by a combined score 251 to 136.
In four games, Fries scored 88 points and was named the tournament MVP.
The four wins in the tournament marked a big turn-around for Yosemite, after starting the season 0-3.
Clovis West Elite Tournament
The first loss was at Clovis High, 52-37, and then the first two games at the Clovis West Elite Tournament, 62-32 to Southern California power Sierra Canyon and 65-27 to Bear Creek, an up and coming NorCal team.
All three defeats were to full court pressure teams and Fries was the only Badger to score in double figures in the tournament with 16 and 12 points.
“We had a slow start to the season, partially due to the success of two fall teams, volleyball and water polo, both winning North Sequoia League titles and extending the season into the playoffs,” Coach Gary Blate said. “Volleyball and water polo team members got a late start in transitioning into high level basketball play.”
The team’s first win, 66-34 over the California School of the Deaf (5-3), a team which bounced back from that defeat with a win over Garces High of Bakersfield. Against CSD, Fries had 21 and Rich had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
In the fourth game of the tournament, the Badgers beat Buchanan of Clovis 51-39 with Fries scoring 17 points.
Madera High Tournament
Yosemite competes this week at the Madera High School Tournament, and opens the tournament at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday against long-time rival Hanford. The teams haven’t met since the 2010 CIF Finals at the Selland Arena, with Hanford winning.
Both those teams went in the state playoffs that season losing in the regional semi-finals to teams (Brea and Mater Dei) ranked No. 1 and No. 3 nationally.
The Bulldogs and Badgers had met in three previous Selland Arena finals - Yosemite winning in 2006 and 2007 and Hanford winning in 2008.
At Madera High School, on Thursday, the Badgers play at 6 p.m. against Coalinga, then at 4:30 p.m. against Edison on Friday, and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday against Mendota.
The team will then take some time off before competing in the San Diego Holiday Classic Dec. 27 - 30.
Yosemite Shootout Jan. 4 - 6
Yosemite’s varsity and JV teams will host the Yosemite Shootout Jan. 4 - 6 with the varsity playing at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday with the JV team playing at 5 p.m..
The JV team is 8-1, with a last second win over Clovis, before capturing the Clovis Tournament crown and advancing to the finals of the Madera Tournament before losing by 1 point to Edison.
Since 2005, more than 20 YHS girls basketball players have gone on to compete at the college level.
Currently, 2014 graduate Kaley Mumm, is playing at Clarke University in Iowa. Mums comes off the bench for the 8-3 team and the 5-foot-11 shooting forward had 8 points in their last victory.
2011 Graduate Sydney Fipps, who scored over 2,000 points in her high school career before becoming a top player at UC Davis, will return to Australia to play professionally for the Lakeside Lightning.
The Badgers other 2000 point player, 2007 graduate Katie Menton, who has four CIF Central Section Championship rings, was an outstanding four-year play at Pepperdine University, is now an assistant coach for the women’s team at Fresno Pacific University.
Yosemite High Correspondent