The Yosemite High girls basketball team (12-5) traveled to San Diego last week to participate in the Southern California Holiday Prep Classic, a tournament featuring 76 varsity teams playing in 9 different brackets. The Gary Blate coached Lady Badgers, playing school’s with much larger enrollments, were very competitive winning two games and losing two.
Yosemite opened four-team pool play on Dec. 27 with a 43-29 win over Douglas of Nevada behind 10 point scoring from both Grace Fries and Allison Bernardi.
On Dec. 28, the Badgers were coasting along against Mira Costa when a combination of foul trouble, poor passing and an uncharacteristic 3 points in the fourth quarter put Yosemite on the short end of a 45-43 score. Juniors Fries had 15 points and Sophie McGoldrick 13 points. Hailey Rich grabbed 11 rebounds.
Badgers beat La Costa Canyon
The last game of pool play found the Badgers matched-up with La Costa Canyon, a school with an enrollment of 2,000 that is currently the No. 3 ranked team out of 100 schools in and around San Diego. In its first two pool games, La Costa won both by double digit margins.
As they expected to do, La Costa jumped out to a 19-9 first quarter lead over the Badgers. But with a little ‘encouragement’ from Blate, and Fries deciding it was time to step-it-up hitting four 3-pointers in the second quarter to bring Yosemite to within four points of La Costa at half time, 26-22.
Yosemite continued to whittle-down the La Costa lead, ending the third quarter with the teams locked in a 34-34 tie - gut-check time for both the Badgers and the Mavericks.
The teams exchanged the lead a number of times in the fourth quarter, and the Badgers were down by 2 points with 12 seconds remaining in the game. With the game clock ticking away, Yosemite came down the court and got the ball to the No. 1 three-point shooter in the state - Fries - and she calmly sunk her sixth 3-pointer (on 11 attempts) of the game to give Yosemite a 1-point lead with just six seconds left for La Costa to make a game-winning shot.
The Mavericks’ got the ball up court quickly but its hopes ended when the Badger’s Bernardi snagged an air-ball jump shot by La Costa at the buzzer to give Yosemite the well-earned victory.
Fries led all scorers with 29 points.
Yosemite plays No. 10 team in the state
The win propelled the Badgers into the finals of bracket play. The tournament brackets were set up early in the season with the top two divisions being elite programs featuring traditional powerhouse teams like Long Beach Poly and Bishop Gorman.
Yosemite was placed in what was supposed to be the third highest bracket, however, the top rated team in the tournament, undefeated Mount Miguel, No. 1 in San Diego and No. 10 overall in the state, was the other finalist and hosted the Badgers on its home court.
Like La Costa, the Mount Miguel Matadors came out hot and hit five 3-point shots in the first quarter to get a quick 21-12 lead in the first quarter, and a 32-22 lead at half. In the third quarter Yosemite pulled to within five points, 32-27, but eventually lost 57-42.
McGoldrick and Rich each had 12 points while Fries added 10 and Bernardi 8 to account for the Yosemite scoring.
Winter Shoot-Out features No. 2 D-V team in the state
The 8-team Yosemite Winter Shootout Girls Basketball Tournament kicks-off at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in the Yosemite High School gyms, when Yosemite will face the winner of the Kingsburg/Madera game.
On Friday, the varsity will play again at 6:30 against an opponent to be determined. The team hopes to make it to the finals at 3 p.m. on Saturday, with Colfax being the possible opponent - A tall order for the Badgers as Colfax is currently 12-1 and the No. 2 ranked D-V team in California.
Yosemite’s JV team will play at 5 p.m. Thursday (Hoover) and Friday (YBD).
North Sequoia League play opens at Sierra
Next week the Yosemite teams open North Sequoia League play at Sierra on Friday, Jan. 12. The girls JV team plays at 3:30 p.m. and the varsity game will start at 6.
Yosemite High Correspondent