Gregg Dodderidge

Fries and Lady Badgers off to strong start

The Yosemite High girls basketball team is off to a fast start this season with a 10-3 record, including going 4-0 twice to win the Hoover and Madera tournaments. The Badgers, who started off 0-3, have now won 10 in a row.

Virtually everyone is back from last year’s team that had a 18-12 season.

This is an impressive start as the Badgers have played in some very competitive tournaments. After Christmas, the Badgers are heading to one of the premier tournaments in the country - the 13th Annual Southern California Holiday Prep Classic in San Diego, with 70 schools from all over the nation playing in multiple brackets.

Head Coach Gary Blate purposely plays a tough non-conference schedule to get his team ready to dominate the North Sequoia League. Blate has won or shared 13 North Sequoia League titles since taking over the program in the 2002-2003 season. Starting in his first year, he won 8 consecutive league titles.

Fries on fire

Part of the strong start is due to the success from beyond the 3-point line by junior Grace Fries, who’s been on fire. According to she is currently the leading 3-point shooter in California with 52 made 3-pointers. Nationally, she is ranked No. 14. Fries is scoring 21.7 points per game which ranks her sixth in the entire Central Section.

It’s not just the scoring. Junior point guard Lily Graffigna is third in the section averaging 6.1 assists per game and junior Haley Rich is ranked No. 32 averaging 7.5 rebounds per game.

To date the Panthers of Washington Union look to be the biggest NSL hurdle for YHS this season. As of Dec, 19, Union was 12-0. Circle Jan. 19 on your basketball calendar as the Badgers visit Union.

Rival Sierra is currently 7-4 and Kerman, last year’s co-champ is 6-3.

The Badger’s open league play at Sierra on Jan. 12. The team’s first league home game is with Chowchilla on Jan. 23.

Badger boys

The Badger boys are 3-8 and heading to another tough holiday tournament this week. A few months ago I would have said the Badgers will be in a position to win a league title this season, a first for the Badger boys program since the 1998-99 season. Unfortunately the Badgers lost two of their best players, junior Tyler Matyshock transferred to Sonora and senior starting center Ben Negley injured his arm in football and will be forced to sit out his senior season.

The Badgers can shoot from beyond the arc. Senior Cannon Eames and Junior Paul Antonis lead the team in scoring with 12.7 and 12 points per game average respectively.

Senior Brian Mularkey is also a reliable 3-point shooter. It is great to see him back on the court after suffering a bad knee-injury last season. It is a huge credit Mularkey’s work ethic. He is averaging 5 points per game. Ty Peterson plays multiple positions, averaging 6.2 points per game and leads the Badgers in rebounds (5.3 per game) and assists (3) and is second in steals with 9.

Kerman looks like the team to beat in the NSL with a 10-2 early season record, and the team has won 20 straight league games. Union (7-5) and Liberty (5-4) will be in the mix but the Lions are the favorite to win a third consecutive title.

New coach at Minarets

Anthony Patino is the new coach for the Minarets boys basketball team this season. Formerly a head coach at Sierra for nine years, Patino brings an impressive basketball resume. Starting in the 2008-09 season Patino guided Sierra to five playoff appearances, two section runner-ups, and the D-IV section title in 2009/10. His tenure included three state playoff appearances.

Currently the Mustangs are 2-11, and will struggle for wins this season being hit hard by graduation and some key athletes are injured from football.

I wish former Mustang Coach Paul Varner, who guided the Mustangs for five seasons and two playoff appearances all the best. He’s all class and I think the world of him. Varner, deserves huge kudos.

Varner stabilized and turned around a Mustang program that was in disarray going through numerous head coaches. He cared first and foremost about being an example and mentor to his players. With his son Christian on the team, Paul is still around Mustang basketball.