The Yosemite High girls varsity basketball team (6-10) will host its first tournament, the eight-team Winter Shootout on Thursday, Friday and Saturday Jan. 5-7.
The Badgers will play at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5 against the Bullard Knights (6-6). If the Badgers win, they will play again at 7 p.m. Friday. If they lose Thursday, the team will play at 5 p.m. Friday. The championship game of the tourney will be played at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Other teams in the tournament include Clovis East (6-8), Fresno (5-11), Hoover (3-9), Kingsburg (5-8), Madera (10-5) and Sanger (9-4).
The Badgers have won 12 league championships in the 14 seasons Blate has been in charge of the program. Blate has taken the team to 7 CIF Finals, winning 4 times, and, except for league rival Sierra, always playing larger schools.
Independent of the tournament, the YHS girls JV team will play at home at 4 p.m. on Jan. 5 and at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 7.
Fries scores 31 against Orange Cove
Last week the Badgers played in the 16-team Buchanan Holiday Tournament, winning two and losing two games.
The opening game was against Orange Cove (5-9). Yosemite had a big scoring night, taking a 16-6 first quarter lead, scoring 23 in the second quarter and 27 in the third before easing off with 13 in the fourth for the lopsided 79-30 win.
Sophomore Grace Fries had her most productive night of the season, leading all scorers with 31 points. Fries had the hot hand hitting on 7 of 13 (54%) 3-point shot attempts, 4 of 6 (66%) 2-pointers and 2-2 (100%) on free throws. Overall, she made 62% of her shots during the game and had five assists on the night.
Post players Hailey Rich and Siena Oswald added 14 and 11 points respectively with Oswald, a 5-foot-10 junior, getting her first double/double of the season with 13 rebounds. Oswald was recently selected First Team on the North Sequoia League’s All-League volleyball team.
In the second game of the tournament, the Badgers faced San Joaquin Memorial (10-3), a team they played in an overtime loss earlier in the season.
Unlike the Orange Cove game, The Badgers could only mange four points in the first quarter, falling behind 17-4. After outscoring the Panthers 18-16 in the second quarter, Yosemite could not make up the difference and fell 57-41. Sophomore Sophie McGoldrick led the YHS scoring with 10 points.
Badgers let 17 point lead slip away
Yosemite next faced McLane (8-7) and opened the game with a 23-6 first quarter lead only to be on the wrong end of one of the largest come-from-behind wins of the season in the Central Section. Little by little McLane cut into the Yosemite lead and with less than a minute to go in the game, the Highlanders took the lead and went on to win 53-51.
The Badgers were doomed by poor shooting from beyond the arc, hitting just 3 of 19 (16%) attempts and could only make 4 of 12 (33%) attempts from the free throw line.
Fries had 16 points in the game and Rich added 11.
The Badgers recovered in their fourth and final game of the tournament with a 47-24 win over Hoover (3-9). Fries had 21 points and averaged 19 points a game for the tournament.
Coach Blate hits 300 win milestone
With the win over Hoover, Coach Blate hit the 300 win milestone with the Lady Badgers. He has a 300-134 record with the girls since taking over the program in 2003.
Prior to that he was boys varsity coach for four seasons and coached the varsity girls at Loara High School in Anaheim for 12 years. His overall varsity record (boys and girls) is 496-342 (59% winning percentage). He should hit the 500 win milestone this month.
The Lady Badgers have won 12 league championships in 14 years under the leadership of Blate, who has taken the Badgers to seven CIF Finals, winning four times. Two of his YHS girls teams have won 30 games in a season, and 20 of his players have gone on to play basketball in college.
Included in that list are five players who are members of the girl’s career 1,000 Point Club including his daughter, Karras (Blate) Hacker (2005), Ashley (Stearns) Lassos (2006), Katie Menton (2007), Jenay Herring (2010) and Sydnee Fipps (2011). Menton and Fipps each scored more than 2,000 points during their YHS careers and went on to play for Pepperdine University and UC Davis.
Blate credits the hard work of his players over the years for his coaching success.
“My goal is to provide the opportunity for a good high school basketball experience for the players and I believe that being competitive makes that experience more fulfilling,” Blate said. “Winning games is the result of the players’ hard work and the commitment required to compete. I am happy to be part of that equation.”
The Badgers open NSL play Jan. 13
The Badgers open North Sequoia League play on Friday, Jan. 13 at Sierra.
All four teams will play starting with the girls JV game at 3:30 p.m., followed by boys JV at 4:45 p.m., girls varsity 6 p.m. and boys varsity at 7 p.m..
Yosemite High Correspondent