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Youngsters Hit The Court For Recreational Basketball
The action was fast and furious on Saturday morning in the old gym on the Escalon High School campus, with the second and third grade youth hoops teams doing battle here. The orange Cavanaugh Paving and Grading, Inc. team members fight for the rebound against the light blue Western Steel Erectors squad. Marg Jackson/The Times

It’s primarily for teaching the basics of the game, and gyms on both the Escalon High School and El Portal Middle School campuses are abuzz with activity on Saturdays.

The Escalon Recreation Department’s Youth Basketball Program sees the kindergarten/first grade division suiting up on Saturdays in the old gym at EHS from 8:15 a.m. until about 10:30 a.m., followed by the second/third grade teams taking the court from 10:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m.

At El Portal, the fourth through sixth grade divisions play from 8:15 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m.

Younger hoopsters play during the week.

This past Saturday, the second in the six-week hoops program, second and third grade program participants were enjoying their brief instructional clinic, followed by a game of two 15-minutes halves.

Though no official scores are kept, there is plenty of cheering when baskets are made or players make a strong play. At the younger levels, players sometimes forget to dribble, but coaches are on the sidelines to offer instruction and support.

“We have 279 registered,” said Escalon Recreation staffer Bridget Gaines. “We had 254 in 2020; we finished right before the shutdown.”

After a hiatus in 2021, the program has returned strong.

Volunteer Michelle Sewell said she enjoys helping out.

“It’s just fun to see them improve,” she said of working with the second and third graders. “We had a 20 minute practice before, then the game.”

The old gym is divided up, with two courts available, and the lower backboards brought in.

Coach Lindsay Harris had her team, Western Steel Erectors, playing a solid game against the Cavanaugh Paving and Grading, Inc. crew.

“I like being involved with the kids; I used to coach soccer, now it’s basketball,” Harris said.

There were plenty of cell phones being used to capture video of the rushes up and down the court on Saturday and though the competition was often fierce, all teams lined up to shake hands after the contests.

Along with the youth hoops, Gaines said there are other activities looming for locals in terms of recreation.

“Baseball registration has closed and we will be drafting and forming teams soon,” she said. “Karate is going at the community center on Mondays and Wednesdays; the next class begins Jan. 31 for four weeks. The next dog training class will be February 26; this class is usually offered every five weeks.”

For information on the Karate Classes, call 209-691-7372. The classes are open to ages 10 to adult, with beginner and intermediate/advanced sessions.

The Bone-A-Fide dog training will run on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. in the city’s Main Street Park. Registration is available on the recreation page at

Volunteer coach Russ Smith gathers his Escalon Community Ambulance team at halftime to talk some strategy on Saturday morning, Jan. 22 during the youth basketball games for second and third grade students. Marg Jackson/The Times
As the bright blue Marissa’s Coldcutz team member dribbles down court, light gray Escalon Community Ambulance team members get into defensive position and the offensive player’s teammates get open for the pass during the second and third grade session of youth basketball on Saturday, Jan. 22. Marg Jackson/The Times