Returning to Trans-Valley League play on Friday night, Jan. 4, the outcome saw Escalon’s varsity basketball boys take a loss. The effort, however, was there and, with some better free throw shooting down the stretch, the game could have gone in the win column.
Host Ripon Christian took the hard fought 48-41 win, leaving Escalon at 0-2 in the league standings.
“Going in, I knew they were the second best team in league,” said head coach Nate Bartelink. “I was extremely pleased with the effort.”
Ripon Christian had a 10-8 lead after one and were up by just three points at the half, 22-19.
“They’re big, they take up the lanes but in that first half we played great defense,” Bartelink pointed out. “In the third quarter we outscored them 12-10 so we were down by one going into the fourth quarter and we took a lead midway through.”
The Cougar offense, however, then stalled out, specifically going cold at the free throw line, where they hit just 2-of-10 in the fourth to leave some valuable points on the table.
“Every miss just put more and more pressure on the next one,” the coach said, noting that the free throw woes were contagious for his team.
Ripon Christian outscored Escalon 16-10 over the final eight minutes to take the win.
Brenden Holmes had 14 points and nine rebounds for Escalon, while Kam DeWeerd had a double-double, notching 11 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.
“There was one glaring thing that could’ve been the difference,” Bartelink said. “They made their free throws in the fourth and we didn’t.”
The Cougars will be working on those free throws in practice and will get the chance to avenge the loss later this season on their home court.
Along with strong shooting nights from Holmes and DeWeerd, Bartelink also said Austin Terra and Miguel Marmol provided solid minutes off the bench and Dylan Ruiz hit three big 3-pointers for Escalon to provide nine points.
“Frank Leal played great defense and Colton Panero did a lot of the dirty work under the basket, we played a team that was much bigger than us and I felt great about how we played with them,” Bartelink said.
Escalon was scheduled to host the top team in league, Ripon, on Tuesday, Jan. 8 after The Times went to press and go back on the road for a game on Friday night, Jan. 11 at Livingston.
On the road, it was a 63-51 loss for the Escalon junior varsity boys on Friday night.
“We couldn’t find any rhythm offensively,” explained head coach Brandon Hoover. “They were fundamentally sound, well coached and we just struggled all game.”
Russell Weinbrecht and Logan Webster each had 17 points in the loss, accounting for the majority of the Escalon points between them.
Hoover said the team did get the chance for a couple of practices during the week prior to the Friday night game, even though school remained on holiday break.
“I don’t know if the layoff had anything to do with it, I felt we were motivated and it was a league game,” Hoover said. “They had a good game plan, did a good job of defending against Russell and again, we just couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm.”
The JV boys are now 1-1 in league and are at 10-8 overall. They were scheduled to host Ripon on Tuesday, Jan. 8 after The Times went to press and will be at Livingston on Friday, Jan. 11.
The youngest Cougars, the freshmen, also took a loss on the road Friday night, falling to the host Ripon Christian Knights, and look to find a winning formula in a pair of TVL contests this week.