Noticing Sam Foster was a little winded, Oakdale girls basketball coach Rob Healy sent a replacement for her to the scorer’s table with a little less than five minutes left in Friday’s game.
“I got a little tired running up and down,” Foster said. “I’m not used to the point guard position.”
Earlier this week, the senior had never played that position in high school. She was still a post player.
But Foster was thrust into this unfamiliar role because the Bears lost starting point guard and defensive ace Zoe Star to a season-ending knee injury near the end of their previous game, Tuesday’s win over Linganore.
And before the drained Foster came out for the final time Friday, getting a well-deserved rest, she turned in one last play as a newly minted point guard.
From out front, Foster fired a long pass inside the paint to set up an open layup opportunity for Gabby Averill, who dutifully scored. Foster finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds, helping Oakdale shake off the loss of two injured starters — post player Sami Hardesty is the other — and roll to a 55-38 win over Tuscarora.
“Sam’s just an all-around player,” Oakdale senior guard Aubrey Austin said. “She’ll do anything.”
Still, Foster’s scant experience as a point guard had come years earlier in camp and as a sixth-grader. She usually fills a forward spot.
That all changed after Star, who was at Friday’s game on crutches, tore her ACL, MCL and meniscus against the Lancers.
“It’s only the third game of the season, it’s almost like the first game of the season again in this situation,” Healy said. “And [Star’s injury] happened with like five minutes left in that game, so this is really our first time getting live bullets like this.”
Healy said he has other viable options to man the point guard position, including senior Rachel Horning, sophomore Sam Blaylock and junior Olivia Scoyoc. There’s still plenty of season for the Bears (3-0) to figure things out.
But for Friday, Healy turned to Foster, a skilled athlete who also excels at soccer. She had two practices to prepare for the switch.
“It’s been hard, trying to learn going from post to point guard,” she said. “But growing up with Zoe, she’s always been the point guard with me. I’ve watched her over the years, and she’s a good mentor.”
Foster looked comfortable enough by the fourth quarter, driving the center of the lane, drawing a defender and dishing off a pass to Averill, who hit an open layup. Foster scored the bulk of her points on driving layups.
“You saw tonight. She’s hard to match up, just with how fast she is. She can get by kids. She’s got size, too,” Healy said.
Star’s absence also presented the Bears with a huge void on defense, their trademark. She used her quickness to get steals. But the Bears still managed to hound the Titans all night on Friday, contesting shots and getting turnovers by darting into passing lanes and staying glued to ball handlers.
“We knew we needed people to step up and do that for [Star],” Austin said. “And I think overall, we came out strong and knew defense was going to be one of our challenges this game.”
Oakdale also dominated on the boards despite not having the services of Hardesty, who thrives in that department.
“Rebounding-wise, even our guards boxed out,” Austin said. “Rebounding and defense are what we focused on.”
The offense came, too. Austin did her part, hitting three 3-pointers and finishing with 12 points. Averill had eight points.
The Bears jumped out to a 26-13 lead by halftime and were never threatened the rest of the night by the Titans (2-1), who were plagued by foul trouble.
“Boxing out and rebounding played a big part tonight. They played a little tougher than us,” Titans coach Charlie Thomas said. “They put a little pressure on us, guards were making some turnovers here and there. But back to the lab, starting tomorrow. I’m glad we get these kind of games early.”
Sophomore Ageaira Frazier led the Titans with 21 points and five rebounds. Onege Asameyong had 10 rebounds and three blocks.
Tuscarora won the JV game 45-35. Natalie Lepkowski had 11 points for the Titans, and Jacoya Cartnail-Riddick scored 10. Madison Lilly had nine points for the Bears.