It was a fitting way to end the regular season on the home basketball court.
Recognition for three senior cheerleaders, four senior boys basketball plyers, scoring from up and down the line-up and a fan favorite sinking the first shot of the night.
Escalon hosted its Senior Night festivities for the varsity basketball program on Friday, Feb. 4 as the Cougars entertained the Hughson Huskies.
It was a program sweep, the freshmen and the JV Cougars both putting wins on the books before the main event.
With a mostly full house – missing the girls basketball players and their families who might otherwise have been there except the girls were on the road at Hughson that night – the festivities took place in between the JV and varsity games.
Honored first, the senior cheerleaders were announced and escorted to midcourt by a number of family members and friends.
Drew Cunningham, Hannah Luna and Taylor Ogan were the seniors recognized.
“They have each shown an abundance of determination, respect and positivity while being a part of the team,” noted the statement in highlighting the trio. “They have performed at a remarkable level and have raised the expectation of what our cheer teams can do.”
The four senior Cougar basketball players then had a turn in the spotlight: Bryce McKenzie, Joey Fross, Russell Weinbrecht and Matthew Silva. Each was escorted to center court by family members as the announcer shared each player’s favorite high school memory and plans following high school.
All four seniors, as is tradition, took the floor to start the contest against Hughson and, to tremendous cheers from the crowd, especially the student section, the first Cougar bucket of the night was scored by Bryce McKenzie.
The senior, who sees limited playing time, seized his opportunity on Friday night and put himself into the mix, battling for some boards, notching the first two points for his team and flying around the court. When he hit a three-point shot in the second half, his teammates on the bench and those fans watching from the stands celebrated the moment.
In the fourth quarter, while McKenzie was on the bench, the EHS student cheering section began a “We want Bryce” chant and were rewarded as he went back into the game and was on the floor as the final minutes wound down toward the TVL win over the Huskies.
“I was going to put him back in,” noted head coach Nate Bartelink, “but that just got him on the floor a little quicker.”
After completing the league schedule this week, the Cougars are looking forward to the playoffs.