Two losses to start off the week knocked Escalon’s junior varsity boys out of first place in the Trans-Valley League basketball standings but they bounced back with a Friday night victory.
Still, it was a tough time for the squad, said head coach Brandon Hoover.
“It was a heartbreaking loss to Ripon Christian, it was a 56-54 loss,” Hoover said of the Tuesday night, Jan. 29 game at home. “It was a tight game throughout but we blew an opportunity to be up big at halftime, with missed free throws and lay ups.”
Some games, the coach added, you can get away with those missed opportunities but this time, it came back to haunt the team in the end.
Ty Bashaw had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the JV Cougars in the game, while Ty Harris and Russell Weinbrecht each had 13 points.
“Thursday was another gut-wrenching loss, 60-55 in overtime,” Hoover said.
This time, the squad was on the road and played at Ripon, falling to the host Indians.
“It was a real up and down game and I really felt the flow was in our favor,” explained Hoover. “It came down to them making their shots.”
The teams were knotted 49-49 at the end of regulation, with Ripon putting in 11 points in the overtime period, Escalon managing just six.
“We got a monster game from Ty Harris, he had 30 points and he defended their best player,” Hoover said.
The player, who is averaging 20 points per game this season, was held to just three points due to the tough defense of Harris.
Logan Webster added 10 points in the loss.
Friday, the JV squad looked to get back in the win column and Hoover said it was a good “bounce back game” for his team, especially considering the close losses they’d had for the week.
Down 16-9 to visiting Livingston after one quarter, the JV boys turned it around and went on a 23-9 run in the second quarter to go up 32-25 at the half. Escalon was up 49-46 after three and finally started to pull away in the fourth quarter, keeping the Wolves at bay and winning the game by a 62-50 final.
“Russell Weinbrecht had eight 3’s, he had 32 points overall. For his age, he is as pure a shooter as you’ll see,” Hoover said.
Webster had 15 points in the victory and Harris added eight.
“We also got great minutes off the bench from Dillon Watson and Justis Dutt, Dillon did a great job rebounding,” said Hoover.
Now with a TVL record of 7-3, the JV Cougars enter the final week of the league season tied for second and are 16-10 overall. They tip off with Hilmar at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8 to close out the season.
It has been a tough Trans-Valley League season for the youngest Cougars on the court. The freshman boys took losses this week against Ripon Christian, Ripon and Livingston.
Head coach Dave Anderson said the team continues to practice and play hard but haven’t been able to get a win in TVL play this season. Their two wins on the campaign came during tournament action, as they have twice defeated Delhi.
“Matt Silva led us in scoring, he scored at least 20 points every game,” Anderson said of the team’s standout player in this week’s losses to TVL opponents. “Connor Lambeth also played hard in all the games, on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively.”
The freshmen close out the season this week; they were scheduled to play at Hughson on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and host Hilmar on Friday night, Feb. 8 at 4:30 p.m.