One tough quarter has been the downfall for Escalon’s varsity basketball boys in the early going so far this season, and the Cougars went 0-for-3 in their games this past week.
They opened up with a hard fought 46-43 loss to Bret Harte at home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, lost on the road at Venture Academy, 60-49 on Wednesday and then took a 66-52 loss at home hosting Oakdale on Saturday.
“We played pretty well for three quarters,” first year varsity head coach Nate Bartelink said of the game against Bret Harte. “We hit some shots but then they stopped falling and we didn’t finish well … we couldn’t get the stops when we needed them.”
Escalon had a 14-12 lead after one, 27-19 at the half but was outscored 27-16 in the second half, including a 16-5 fourth quarter run by Bret Harte, to take the loss.
“The effort was there,” Bartelink noted.
Brenden Holmes had 20 points, including six 3’s and also had five rebounds. Kameron DeWeerd had eight points and nine rebounds and Brad DaDalt added six points.
Against Venture Academy, the Cougars ran into a zone that gave them trouble, as did the speed and quickness of their opponent.
“We had a tough start,” Bartelink said of trailing 20-8 after one quarter.
Down 39-20 at the half, the coach said the team talked at halftime about cutting into that deficit and came out with a strong 21-8 third quarter run to get back in the game, heading into the fourth quarter down just 47-41. But Venture Academy outscored them 13-8 in the fourth to take the victory.
“They are a pretty good team, good athletes,” said Bartleink.
Holmes had 12 points to lead the Cougars, with Kaidence Trejo coming off the bench to provide some spark and 10 points. DaDalt added nine.
Saturday, the Cougars welcomed in a 5-0 Oakdale team.
“We knew we were up against a challenge, the beat us 66-52 and their freshman had 30 points, he hurt us,” Bartelink said of being unable to contain a talented young Oakdale player.
Oakdale had a 21-19 lead after one but then poured it on with a 27-10 edge in the second to lead it, 48-29, at the half.
“We made a nice run in the fourth and finished well but we still had that one bad quarter,” Bartelink explained.
Escalon finished the game with a 17-8 scoring advantage in the final quarter.
Holmes had 14 points, all in the first half, DeWeerd had eight points, all in the first quarter. Mikey Carroll came in and scored six points in the third, while Clayton Ferreira hit eight points for Escalon in the fourth quarter.
Opening up 0-3, Bartelink said there are some building blocks in place.
“Of the nine quarters we have played well, we have outscored our opponents 121-109,” he said. “In the three poor quarters we’ve been outscored 63-23.”
The team will focus on consistency, looking to avoid those poor quarters.
With first year head coach Brandon Hoover taking over the JV program, the post held last season by Bartelink, the JV Cougars have gotten off to a 3-0 start.
They won 61-48 over Bret Harte, 68-57 against Venture Academy and 55-53 over Oakdale.
Against Bret Harte, Russell Weinbrecht had 19 points and Ty Harris had 14, with Logan Webster adding eight.
“At that point, we had only had two practices as a team,” Hoover noted, with some late arrivals because of football. “Our offense was a little ragged, our defense was key.”
Ty Bashaw added eight rebounds in the win.
Four players hit double figures in the road win at Venture Academy, paced by 22 from Weinbrecht, 19 from Webster, 12 from Bashaw and 11 from Harris.
“Venture Academy hit 14 3’s, but we got to the rim really well,” Hoover said. “We played aggressively going toward the rim, which I was happy with.”
Saturday’s game against Oakdale was a battle, the JV squad getting off the court with the 2-point win.
“I was really pleased with our defense that game,” Hoover noted.
They also had a strong night from Harris.
“Russell got into foul trouble but Ty Harris stepped up and scored 25 points,” said Hoover.
Weinbrecht did have 11 points, Webster had eight and Bashaw had nine rebounds.
“Oakdale is a physical, well coached team, our kids just grinded it out.”
For the freshmen, they lost on Saturday to Oakdale and earlier were involved in the Ceres Tournament where they lost to Patterson, beat Delhi and lost to Ripon.
This week, the Cougars were scheduled to host Calaveras on Tuesday, after The Times went to press, with the JV and varsity teams then playing at the Galt Tournament Thursday through Saturday.