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JV Cougars Rack Up Double Digit Wins In Preseason
Going 2-1 in the three-day Merced Tournament from Dec. 28 through 30, the Escalon JV basketball boys beat some high level competition and got in some valuable playing time on the court.

They opened up on Monday, Dec. 28 against Merced and beat the host school, 66-59.

Trailing 31-25 at the half, the Cougar JV boys tore it up over the final two periods.

"It was the best second half we've played this year so far," said coach Nate Bartelink. "Especially in the third quarter, we had a lot of transition baskets, our defense led to our offense, the aggressiveness was there."

Five players were in double figures for Escalon, as the JV boys outscored Merced 23-12 in the third quarter and 18-16 in the fourth.

Patrick Mulry had 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the charge, followed by Austen Cardoza with 13 points, Nate Caton with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Alec VonAlvensleben with 12 points and Mason Silva with 10 points.

"We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys," Bartelink said.

Coming off the satisfying win, the JV squad came out flat in game two and suffered a 52-47 loss to Atwater.

"It just seemed like we were going through the motions, it was one of our poorer performances," admitted Bartelink.

The Atwater team played a zone defense and Escalon hasn't had to deal with that yet in a game situation, so it took awhile to get used to it.

"We actually tied the game in the fourth," Bartelink said of making the adjustments and mounting a comeback. "But they pulled away with free throws down the stretch."

Escalon outscored Atwater 18-11 in the final period but couldn't quite catch their larger opponent.

Dominic Louro had 11 points to pace the team, Silva and Mulry each added eight.

Wednesday, the JV boys closed out the round robin tournament with a solid 71-57 win over Turlock.

"We played a much better game and had a great start," Bartelink said of running out to a 20-9 edge after one quarter, and a 42-27 lead at the half.

"We challenged them to come out more aggressive and they responded," Bartelink said of the coaching staff urging the JV Cougars to play hard from the start. "We were in the bonus early, were 20-for-24 in free throws in the first half."

Bartelink said the best part of the tournament was seeing a sustained high level of play in two of the three games, and capping it with the win over Turlock was satisfying.

"They played a complete four quarters and we were real happy with that performance," the coach said.

Matt Roberson had 13 points in the win, while Caton added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Silva was again in double figures with 10 points, Mulry and VonAlvensleben had eight each.

With the win, the JV squad improved to 10-2 in preseason and tournament play.

"It's nice to have 10 wins early, especially playing quite a few big schools," Bartelink said.

They made it 11-2 after traveling to Atwater for a Saturday, Jan. 2 contest and getting some revenge against the team for their earlier week loss in the tournament.

"They played a zone against us again and we were in foul trouble early but we had some people step up when we were short handed on the bench," Bartelink said.

Cardoza had 13 points and was 7-for-7 in free throws, while Silva had 13 points as the JV boys took a 53-48 win. Roberson had eight points and seven rebounds, Mulry added eight points in the win as well. Trailing at the break, the Cougars made up the deficit and took the lead with an 18-10 run in the third quarter.

The boys now begin their 'crossover' games with Mother Lode League squads before starting Trans-Valley League action.

They were scheduled to host Amador on Tuesday, Jan. 5 after The Times went to press and will travel to Argonaut on Friday, Jan. 8 for a non-league game. A trip to Calaveras on Jan. 12 and a home game with Bret Harte on Jan. 14 will close out the preseason.