The Yosemite High School girls basketball team (9-10) won its own tournament Saturday after beating three larger schools from the Valley.
In the Winter Shootout Tournament’s championship game Jan. 7, the Badgers, coached by Gary Blate, played possibly their best game of the season, beating the Sanger Apaches (12-4) 54-37. Prior to the game, Sanger was ranked No. 5 by maxpreps.com in the Central Section D-II.
Sanger had advanced to the championship game with wins over Kingsburg and Hoover. Yosemite advanced after beating Bullard 49-47 and Madera 55-50. Prior to the game Madera was ranked No. 3 in the Central Section D-III by maxpreps.com.
After leading by a point at halftime (22-21), the Badgers played tough defense and dominated the the second half, scoring 32 points and holding the Apaches to single digits in the third and fourth quarters.
Four Badgers scored in double figures with the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Grace Fries, leading the way with 13, five rebounds and four assists.
Fries is leading the team with 259 points (15.8 per game average) and is currently ranked No. 3 in D-II of the Central Section.
“We played more as a team tonight,” Fries said after the game. Already looking ahead to the Badger’s North Sequoia League opener at Sierra Friday, “we are playing with more confidence as a team and we will be ready for Sierra,” she added.
Three other players scored 10 - sophomores Sophie McGoldrick and Lilly Graffigna and junior Siena Oswald. Hailey Rich added 9 points and six rebounds.
Oswald also had 19 rebounds, making her No. 3 in the school’s record book for the most rebounds in a single game. Sydnee Fipps (2010) and Veronica Miller (2014) are at the top of that list with 20 each.
Oswald is currently ranked No. 2 in the Central Section’s D-II for rebounds with 151. The No. 1 spot belongs to Hailey Scott on Monache High in Porterville with 189. Sierra’s Ressie Gonzales is third with 108.
League opener Friday at home
North Sequoia League action begins on Friday with Yosemite hosting Sierra, with the girls game at 6 p.m. and the boys varsity game following at 7:30 p.m.. The girls JV game is at 3:30 p.m. and the boys JV teams start at 4:45 p.m..
In the Central Section, the Lady Chieftains are ranked No. 6 in D-III and Yosemite is currently ranked No. 11 in D-II, although with the three wins over larger schools in the Winter Shootout Tournament, Yosemite will likely move up in the rankings.
The two teams have won or shared the league championship every year since 2003.
Blate looking for 500th win Friday
With Blate’s recent 300th win as coach of the Yosemite girls team, he has joined the “Top 10” list of girls coaches in the Central Section with 300 wins according to section historian Bob Barnett. His win-loss record with the girls at Yosemite now stands at 303-134.
Doug White of Corcoran has the most wins (447-199). Only three coaches on the list are still active including Blate, White, and Cathy Lauritzen at Sierra.
A win at Sierra Friday would give Blate his 500th overall win as a basketball coach, including his four years coaching the YHS boys and 12 years in Anaheim coaching girls at Loara High School. His overall win-loss record stands at 499-342 (winning percentage of 69%).
Blate’s YHS girls team has won or shared 12 league championships in 14 seasons and has taken YHS to seven Central Section title games, winning four times.