The Yosemite girls varsity (14-6) and JV (12-2) basketball teams hosted the second annual 8-team Yosemite Shootout last weekend, with each team playing three games.
After breezing through its first two games, 71-23 over Reedley and 58-23 over Madera, the varsity girls played the Colfax Falcons Saturday in the title game. The Falcons (15-1), with a school enrollment of about 400, are a D-V power in the Sac-Joaquin Section, and this was the march-up everyone was waiting to see.
The Badgers dug a hole for themselves early in the first quarter, as the quick Falcons went up 7-0. YHS fought back with Linnea Leinau scoring 5 straight points. Colfax ended the quarter on an 8-0 run and led 21-8.
Yosemite junior, 5-foot-9 Sophie McGoldrick was forced to sit out a good portion of the game after getting 3 fouls in the first quarter.
In the second Coach Gary Blate made adjustments to the Falcon press and YHS slowly fought back. A Lilly Graffigna 3-point play closed the gap to 21-14. Grace Fries hit three 3-pointers in the quarter and YHS was down just 3 points, 32-29 by halftime. YHS outscored Colfax 21-11 in the quarter.
Yosemite took a 33-32 lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter. It was their only lead of the game. Colfax ended the third on a 9-3 run. Allison Bernardi’s 3-point play for YHS ended the quarter with Colfax up 41-38.
It was 48-43 Colfax with 2:20 left in the game, when Graffigna hit two clutch 3-pointers and the Badgers were suddenly down just 2 points (52-50) with under a minute to play. Colfax then went on an 8-0 run to close out the hard-fought contest, 60-50.
Graffigna had one of her best performances of the season leading YHS with 15 points and 5 assists. Fries had 14 points and Bernardi had 10. Hailey Rich had 16 rebounds.
YHS had no answer for Colfax’s sophomore Grace Bliss who led all scorers with 30 points.
Against Madera YHS jumped out to a 36-11 halftime lead and allowed the bench to get significant minutes. Rich led Yosemite with a double-double (14 points - 12 rebounds). McGoldrick had 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists and point guard Graffigna had 9 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Madera held the Yosemite’s leading scorer Grace Fries to just 8 points. She also had 5 steals.
The Badgers defeated Reedley (4-12) 71-23. It was the second win against Reedley as the Badgers defeated the Pirates 49-21 at the Hoover Tournament.
First-year Pirate Coach Matt Wilkinson was a former YHS player for Blate. Wilkinson graduated from YHS in 2002 and was a star player for Blate for three years. “It was great to be back at Yosemite High,” Wilkinson said. “I loved my experience at YHS. Gary was a mentor and the Blate’s are like family. It was pretty amazing to be coaching against Gary. I just want it to be more competitive. We will get there. I have a great example here at Yosemite of what a team can do.”
Fries scored 18 points connecting on six 3-point shots. Center Rich had another solid performance with a double-double (12 points - 12 boards). Bernardi had 9 points and 8 rebounds.
The quick 5-foot-4 Graffigna had 7 assists and 6 steals, and 5-foot-10 Sienna Oswald had 4 points and 9 rebounds.
JV team 3-0
The JV team went 3-0 to take the tournament title, defeating Hoover 42-12, Colfax 24-23, and Kingsburg 35-8. Coach James Andersen has the team on a roll and poised for a title run in the North Sequoia League.
“The team really came together,” Andersen said. “Despite having a poor shooting night against Colfax, we played together. Our girls are close and don’t get down. It has been a good season so far.”
Against Hoover, YHS forward Britney Allen led all scorers with 22 points. Keylee Andersen had 7 points and 7 rebounds and Jenna Kurz had 6 points.
The Colfax game pitted the two best JV teams in the tournament, although YHS made less than 20% of their shots. The low-scoring affair came down to the wire with the Falcons missing a shot as the buzzer sounded. Kurz led YHS with 8 points and 6 rebounds. Allen had 7 points.
The final against Kingsburg was a blowout from the start but Andersen was able to play his entire squad giving his bench heavy minutes. Izzy Brown had her best game as a Badger leading YHS with a double- double (14 points, 12 rebounds) and 5 steals.
League gets underway Friday at Sierra
The Badgers open NSL play this Friday against Sierra in Tollhouse. The Chieftains are still the Badgers arch-rival, and this will not be an easy game for YHS.
YHS will face a Chieftain squad in transition. Long time head coach Cathy Lauritzen stepped down last season. Lauritzen like Blate was truly one of the best coaches in the Valley with a stellar record-A section title (2013-14) and 4 state playoff appearances.
Sandra Marbut now leads the program and Sierra is off to an 8-4 start. Senior Hannah Gildreath leads Sierra at 11.4 points per game. Freshman Sydney Wyman is scoring 8.3. Senior twin guards Autumn and Taylor Barcus bring valuable experience to the team.
The North Sequoia League looks tough this year. Every team comes into league play with a positive record. Last year’s NSL co-champions Kerman is 12-6, Chowchilla is 12-4 and Liberty is 9-8. But the surprise so far is Washington Union who are 14-2. Both Union losses were to an 11-5 Immanuel team. The Panther/Badger contest at Union on Jan.19 will go a long way on deciding this season’s champion of the NSL.
Yosemite players say they are ready for the challenge.
“We got off to a good start in pre-season and we are really starting to click as a team,” Fires said. “We will be ready for Sierra and our other league games.”
“This team played well together last year but we have stepped-it-up even more this season,” said Bernardi. “Everyone on this team has a great attitude and we are having fun.”