A loss on the road, a win at home made up the week for the Escalon varsity basketball boys.
They headed out to Calaveras for a Tuesday, Dec. 17 contest and fell by a 77-51 final.
“They are one of the higher rated teams,” said head coach Nate Bartelink. “They’re always tough and they’re playing well.”
To complicate matters, the Cougars came out flat early and couldn’t get much going against the host team.
Calaveras outscored Escalon 22-7 in the first quarter, helped out by four 3-point baskets in that frame alone.
“We were behind before we could blink,” said Bartelink.
His team also gave up 14 3-point shots on the night, accounting for 42 of the 77 Calaveras points.
The second quarter was much more competitive, Calaveras outscored Escalon just 16-15 but the Cougars were still down 38-22 at the half. A 39-29 scoring edge over the third and fourth quarters saw Calaveras put the win on the books.
“We just didn’t play great defense,” admitted Bartelink.
The team did have a few players join them, coming off the lengthy football season, and look to work those players in to the rotation.
Brenden Holmes had 11 points and 11 rebounds while Russell Weinbrecht added 10 points. Dylan Ruiz chipped in with nine and Ty Harris, fresh off quarterbacking the football team to a state title, had eight points and six rebounds in his first basketball game of the season.
Bartelink also pointed to the effort of junior newcomer Joe Wolaver, who made a big impact in a short amount of time.
“He hit for 10 points in the last couple of minutes of the game; that was a highlight, he hit two 3’s and two lay-ups.” Bartelink said.
Friday night, with a new defense added in and some other adjustments made, the Cougars battled to an 80-73 overtime victory against visiting Atwater, a Division 2 school.
“We utilized a zone defense and it worked well,” Bartelink explained.
Atwater did have an 18-15 lead after one and were up 32-27 at the half.
Escalon had a 15-11 scoring edge in the third to trail by just one, 43-42, entering the final frame.
“We had a six-point lead with a minute and 30 seconds left but they hit two 3’s to send it to overtime,” the coach noted.
Escalon then went on to outscore Atwater 15-8 in the OT for the big win.
“We got the stops when we needed and I was proud of the boys,” Bartelink said. “We have had three overtime games this season, and we have won all three.”
Holmes played “the game of his life,” said the coach, with 36 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, including hitting seven 3-point baskets. Weinbrecht had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“Ty Harris did a great job on defense, he had three points but 12 rebounds,” Bartelink added. “Colton Panero, back from football, had eight points and was 4-for-4 on those key baskets and brought a lot of toughness to the court.”
Ruiz had seven points, four of them in overtime.
The JV boys, meanwhile, dropped both of their contests this week, to Calaveras and Atwater, while the freshmen lost to Atwater but got a win against Calaveras.
This week, the varsity team will play at the Oakdale Tournament, Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 26 through 28 while the freshmen and JV boys host the Escalon Tournament during that same three-day period.