Sports

YHS girls basketball coach previews the Badgers’ upcoming season

The Yosemite High girls varsity basketball team, seeded No. 2, host the No. 7 seed Tehachapi tomorrow night (Saturday) at 5 p.m. in a CIF Central Section D-II playoff game. The game was originally scheduled for tonight (Friday). The Lady Badgers clenched the North Sequoia League Championship with a 54-29 home win over Washington Union Feb. 6. Team members are, from left, Siena Oswald, Lily Webb, Sophie McGoldrick, Linnea Leinau, Lilly Graffigna, Hailey Rich, Kelsey Montalto, Allison Bernardi and Grace Fries.
The Yosemite High girls varsity basketball team, seeded No. 2, host the No. 7 seed Tehachapi tomorrow night (Saturday) at 5 p.m. in a CIF Central Section D-II playoff game. The game was originally scheduled for tonight (Friday). The Lady Badgers clenched the North Sequoia League Championship with a 54-29 home win over Washington Union Feb. 6. Team members are, from left, Siena Oswald, Lily Webb, Sophie McGoldrick, Linnea Leinau, Lilly Graffigna, Hailey Rich, Kelsey Montalto, Allison Bernardi and Grace Fries. Special to Sierra Star

The Yosemite High School girls basketball team is looking to repeat as champions and continue a brand of basketball that has led them to 14 North Sequoia League titles in the past 16 seasons.

The Badgers were undefeated in conference play (10-0) and 25-8 overall last season, advancing to the Central Section Division III playoffs as a 12-seed. There, they lost in the first round against Sacramento’s West Campus High School, the eventual Division 3 State Champions.

This season’s schedule already looks more difficult on paper as the Badgers will travel to the Bay Area and Anaheim for tournaments and compete in the Clovis Varsity Showcase.

Yosemite will host a multi-team scrimmage on Saturday, Nov. 17, JVs at 9 a.m. and varsity at 11:40 a.m., followed by a pair of home games on Tuesday, Nov. 20 against Clovis High School and Monday, Nov. 24 against Fresno High School.

These will be the only home games for the girls until NSL play in January.

The Badgers chances for back-to-back titles are bolstered by the return of their top four scorers from last season, including the 2018 NSL Player of the Year Grace Fries. Fries tied the school record with 107 made 3-point shots last season to lead the Central Section and rank 25th in the country.

She averaged 17 points a game, highlighted by a three-game stretch in December that featured a 40-point game against Hanford High School followed by a 31-point effort against Edison, both Division 1 teams.

Fries’ partner in the backcourt will be First-team All-League point guard Lilly Graffigna. Both guards are seniors, four-year varsity players and three-year starters. Graffigna was fourth in the section in assists and led the team in steals while averaging more than 7 points per game.

Graffigna’s game is much improved as she is more physical than last season and has improved her play-making skills.

Senior Sophie McGoldrick is a forward who can shoot outside and get to the basket. She has averaged at least 8 points per game for the past two seasons. McGoldrick is a multifaceted two-way player with the size to defend in the paint and the speed to run the fast break.

Senior Hailey Rich scored an averaged of 10 points per game last season and was the team’s leading rebounder (8.6). Rich is both a threat from deep and near the basket.

The team’s fifth senior is Linnea Leinau, a utility player who can play point guard or forward. Leinau suffered an injury last season that kept her off the floor for a number of games.

Five players from last year’s championship JV team have moved up to the Varsity and will make big contributions. Junior Center Courtney Hart is 6-foot-1 and tough to stop under the basket.

The other Junior is 5-foot-9 Keylee Andersen who played on the Badgers’ CIF Championship volleyball team. Andersen has the ability to score and will provide depth to the Yosemite back row of defenders.

Three sophomores will play on the varsity team this season. Jenna Kurz is 5-foot-9 should see a lot of playing time, Kurz can score a lot of points with outside shooting and drives to the basket. Britney Allen is a 5-foot-4 dynamo who last season scored 21 points in the first quarter of a game against Sierra. Five-foot-8 Lauren Bernardi and steps into the uniform worn the past three seasons by her older sister, Allison.

Tip-off times for upcoming home games

Nov. 20 against Clovis High School: JV - 3:30 p.m., Varsity- 5 p.m.

Nov. 24 against Fresno High School: JV - 5 p.m., Varsity - 6:30 p.m.

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