Last Friday, the Yosemite (13-10, 4-0 North Sequoia League) and Kerman (19-5, 4-1 NSL) girls basketball teams, both undefeated in league, squared off in the Lions Den in front of a large and noisy crowd which arrived early for that contest prior to the boys varsity game - also a game for the league lead.
Lead by the 23 points of Grace Fries, the Lady Badgers won 50-46, and now sit atop the NSL league standings. It was the eighth straight win for Yosemite, which included a Yosemite Tournament championship against three higher ranked teams.
Entering the contest the Lions and were ranked No. 3 in the Central Section D-IV. The team featured two 6-foot starters including leading scorer, freshman Breanna Hurt (12 points per game average), who should develop into one of the top players in the Central Section and a D-I college prospect.
The Lions also had one of the top 3-point shooters in the section in senior guard Kaitlyn Guizar, daughter of former Fresno State football standout Efrain Guizar.
Coach Gary Blate’s Badgers countered with a 5-foot-10 back row of junior Siena Oswald and sophomores Hailey Rich and Sophie McGoldrick.
Up front for YHS were two more sophomores - point guard Lilly Griffigna and Fries, the leading scorer.
The home crowd spurred the Lions on to a 13-11 first quarter lead with Kerman making three 3-point shots, but the Badgers outscored the Lions 16-8 in the second quarter with Fries scoring half of those points. Kerman came back to take the third quarter 11-9 to get within four points of Yosemite (36-32).
Kerman’s 5-foot-3 Sierra Perez had her best game of the season and hit three 3’s in the fourth quarter, giving her 6 in the game and a season high 20 points. But the Badgers matched the Lions in points in the period, making 5 of 7 free throws to come away with the 50-46 victory.
Fries finished with 23 points in the biggest game of the season - hitting 3 of 7 from beyond the 3-point arch, 5 of 10 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free throw line. In her last six games she is 20 for 26 from the free throw line (77% accuracy). The team in those games is overall 55-83 from the free throw line and that has played a large role in the team’s success.
Against Kerman, Oswald was 3 of 4 from the line with 11 total points and 12 rebounds, giving her a fourth double-double on the season. She is currently leading the league in rebounds averaging 10 a game.
The keys to the win over Kerman in addition to Fries 23 points, Oswald’s double/double and overall 9-12 free throw shooting was giving the Lions limited opportunities to shoot inside. While Perez was scorching the nets with 3-point bombs and standout freshman Hurt finished with 18 points, the rest of the Lions were held in check and second leading scorer Guizar was held scoreless.
The Badgers now sit atop the NSL standings with a 4-0 record while Kerman is 4-1 and Sierra is 3-2.
The Lady Badgers have won 12 league championships in the past 14 years under the leadership of Blate, who has taken the Badgers to seven CIF Finals, winning four times. The Oakhurst at torney has now accumulated 307 wins as the YHS girls coach and hit the 500 career win (now at 504) on Jan. 13 with a win against Sierra in his 31st year of coaching high school basketball.
Yosemite beats Chowchilla 60-31
Prior to the Kerman game, the Badgers traveled to Chowchilla to beat the newly named Tribe (formerly Redskins) 60-31 on Jan. 25.
Yosemite’s leading scorers were the same - Fries with 20 points and Oswald with 10. Fries had an outstanding offensive game with 5 for 5 on 2-point shots, 2 of 6 on 3s and 4 of 4 on free throws.
The Badgers were 11 of 14 as a team from the free throw line. McGoldrick (4-4) and Carly Baldwin (2-2) were also perfect from the charity line.
The team traveled to league rival Sierra on Wednesday. Scores not available at press time. Check back here for for game results. The team is at Liberty-Madera Ranchos Friday.
The home game against Washington Union, which had been canceled because of snow has been rescheduled to Monday, Feb. 13 at Yosemite - JV at 5 p.m. and varsity at 6:30.
The return game against Kerman at YHS is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 15.
Yosemite High Correspondent