A busy week for the basketball boys saw the Cougar varsity squad on a roll, winning three games in a row.
They were at home Tuesday, May 11 against Chavez of Stockton and completed a Cougar sweep on the night, winning 56-48. The freshman and JV teams also won that evening.
“We had three guys in double figures, Brenden Holmes had 17, Russ Weinbrecht had 17 and Jack Anderson had 12,” explained head coach Nate Bartelink. “Jack hit four 3’s in the second half, he got hot, shot with confidence and that sparked us.”
Escalon outscored Chavez in three of the four quarters but trailed 30-28 at the half.
They put in 28 second half points to the 18 by Chavez, providing the margin of victory.
Ty Harris added six points in the Cougar win.
Thursday and Friday, it was the home and away series against Oakdale in Valley Oak League play. The Cougars hosted the Mustangs on Thursday night, May 13 and held on for a 62-53 win.
“We played at a different level in the first half,” Bartelink noted, with the team controlling the tempo of the game. “It started out with our defense, that led to some things in transition and our shots were falling.”
The result was a 17-8 lead after one, 38-18 at the half for Escalon.
“Russ had four 3’s in the second quarter alone,” the coach said.
But, he added, the team came out for the second half without as much fire and the comfortable lead started to melt away.
“The third quarter has been our issue all season, I’m not sure if we relax or lose momentum but it has been our kryptonite,” Bartelink admitted.
Oakdale went on a 12-3 scoring binge in the third, cutting the deficit to 41-30 entering the final frame and got the Cougar lead down to four points at a couple of different times in the fourth quarter.
“We were able to hold them off but it was more like we were playing not to lose, watching the clock and hoping it ran out,” said Bartelink.
He gave credit to Oakdale for playing hard until the final buzzer, but the Cougars got some clutch free throws from Weinbrecht, 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter and 9-for-10 for the game, to help take the win. Holmes and Harris got credit for guarding Oakdale’s top two shooters, keeping them in check, and Dillon Watson also earned praise for his hard work on defense.
Weinbrecht led the team with 25 points, including five 3’s while Holmes had 20. Harris put in nine, Anderson had eight.
“We got great defense, great rebounding from Ty, he continues to give us a great effort and this was a good win. Oakdale is tough, we were pleased we got the victory,” Bartelink said. “It’s a different dynamic this year, playing teams back to back, we knew we had a challenge on the road Friday going to Oakdale and we came out victorious, 58-53.”
The story was similar to Thursday, building up a double digit lead in the first half, with Weinbrecht pouring in 14 of the team’s 17 second quarter points.
Up 32-19 at halftime, Escalon saw the host Mustangs get hot in the third, going on a 22-7 run to take a 41-39 lead into the fourth. Escalon returned the favor, outscoring Oakdale 19-12 in the final frame for the win.
“We played better defense, Ty hit a big 3-point shot on a late shot clock play, it was a great road victory,” Bartelink said.
Holmes had the task of guarding Oakdale’s top 3-point shooter and did not allow his opponent to net a trey during the two game set.
Weinbrecht had 26 points on Friday night, Holmes had 15, Harris added 12.
“That was our fourth victory in a row, we started out with a tough schedule, playing some private schools but the kids have bought into what we are trying to teach,” said the coach. “We are establishing our identity and we are now 6-6 overall, looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”
Escalon’s JV boys defeated Chavez on Tuesday by a 57-49 final, getting a season high 22 points from Logan Anderson, as well as seeing the sophomore pull down multiple rebounds. Ben Fletcher had 10 points, with eight from Cam Ruiz and six from Ayden Wilson.
Hosting Oakdale on Thursday, it was a battle, with the visitors just a few points better, Oakdale taking a 53-50 win.
Donovan Rozevink had 20 points on the night, Fletcher 15 and Garza seven, the three freshmen leading the team in scoring.
“Friday at Oakdale we were hoping for a better result but they got us that night too, 51-44,” Bartelink said.
Fletcher had 12 points, Rozevink 11 and Garza eight.
Taking the court for just one game this week, the youngest Cougars were 50-45 winners over Chavez on Tuesday night to kick off the trio of Escalon victories that night.
Escalon had a one-point lead at the half, 24-23, and extended the lead a little more in the third, with a 16-10 scoring edge that quarter.
Leading the team was Jamin Miller with 17 points, Garza with 16 and Angel Castro had 11 points, playing a solid all-around game.
Looking ahead, the varsity only was to play Monday at Franklin, May 17; with all three teams slated to take on Central Valley on Tuesday, May 18. There will be triple headers against Ripon on Thursday and Friday, with the boys home Thursday and on the road Friday.
“We’re enjoying the moment, happy to be playing, still doing our COVID testing,” Bartelink said. “The boys are working hard; nothing was guaranteed to us this season and I think they are just extremely happy to be playing basketball right now.”