The Yosemite Badgers Girls Basketball team returned to the State Playoffs for the first time since 2011 and went on the road to face West Campus High School, the defending D-4 State Champions with two stand-out players earning D-1 scholarships to UCLA and University of California Bakersfield.
The Badgers were chosen for the Northern California D-III State Playoffs with a 25-6 record after losing 61-46 to Mission Oak on March 3. That loss was the result of the Badgers’ worst shooting performance of the season, hitting only 4 of 29 3-point shots and 6 of 14 free throws.
The team’s leading scorer and ranked 3-point shooter, junior Grace Fries was held to 9 points in the game.
On March 7, the Lady Badgers traveled to West Campus in Sacramento facing a formidable opponent with a nationally recognized star in 5-foot-9 shooting guard Kiara Jefferson.
Jefferson thwarted each Badgers rally with key baskets, leading the Warriors to a 60-45 victory and scorning 27 points.
The Badgers were led in scoring by leading scorers Grace Fries and Hailey Rich with 14 and 13 points. Fries broke out of her late season shooting slump and sank 4 of 10 3-point shots and finished the season with a 107 made 3-point shots, her with 2011 YHS graduate Sydnee Fipps for the most in a single season.
Fipps went on to become the 2nd leading scorer in UC Davis history and now plays professionally in Australia. Fries is only a junior and has another season and needs 61 more 3s to become the all-time leading 3-point shooter in Yosemite history. The record holder is 2007 graduate Katie Menton who went on to score over 1,000 points at Pepperdine. Both Fipps and Menton were in attendance at the home game against Mission Oak.
Fries joined those two, along with Karras Blate, Ashley Stearns Lassos and Jenay Herring in the Badges 1,000 Point Club. When Fries broke the 1,000 point mark, she received texts from each of the other members of the Club.
At West Campus, the Badgers closed to within 2 points later in the third quarter but could not close the gap with turnovers and missed shots.
Jefferson scored 11 of her points in the fourth quarter to keep the Badgers at bay. West Campus went on to win its second round game 64-46.
Badgers post player Senior Allison Bernardi had a solid game with 6 points and 9 rebounds.
The Badgers graduate three other seniors in post player Siena Oswald, an All-League defender, 5-foot-4 utility player Kelsey Montalto and 5-foot-5 Lily Webb.
In addition to Fries and Rich, two other Badger starters return in point guard Lilly Graffigna who was a Section leader in Assists and
5-foot-10 forward Sophie McGoldrick who is an inside and outside threat.
The first player off the bench this season was another junior, 5-foot-6 Linnea Leinau. Joining these five returning players next season will be some key players off the Badgers’ undefeated League Champion JV team which will give the team depth in size and scoring.
33 games ties record
The 33 games played this season tied for third all-time in YHS basketball history. Yosemite is one of the few schools in Central Section girl basketball to win more than 30 games and has done it twice, in 2006 and 2010.
Even though the team went undefeated in the NSL this season, top players will return at every school and they will have similar motivation to dethrone Yosemite.
Next year’s team should be a very good one and Yosemite has a great opportunity to challenge for a CIF crown and deep run in the State Playoffs.
“This depends, of course, on how hard the players work to improve,” said Head Coach Gary Blate.
In his XX-year basketball coaching career, Blate now has an overall win/loss record of 533-352, and 337-144 record as Yosemite’s coach - 151-3 in league play since 2003.