Closing out the season with back-to-back victories, the Escalon JV basketball boys topped Hughson and Hilmar to end the campaign with a 9-3 record in Trans-Valley League play.
Tuesday, Feb. 5 they were on the road at Hughson and put a 51-46 win on the books.
“It was a really nice road win, Hughson is a good team and going in, they were tied with us for second place in league,” explained head coach Brandon Hoover. “We had a comfortable lead most of the way; in the fourth quarter they started picking up their press, we had some turnovers, uncharacteristic errors, they cut it to four points.”
But a timely steal by Logan Webster, followed by his fast break lay-up and drawing the foul, then sinking the free throw, helped seal the deal.
Escalon had a 15-9 lead after one and were up 27-21 at the half. A 14-10 scoring edge in the third gave the JV Cougars a 41-31 lead after three quarters. Hughson, with a push in the fourth, outscored Escalon 15-10 but couldn’t quite catch them, with the Cougars holding on for the five-point victory.
Russell Weinbrecht had 16 points, including four 3’s to lead the team, with Ty Harris adding 12 points and some stellar defense, while Logan Webster was also in double figures with 11.
Friday, the JV team hosted Hilmar in the middle of the three-game Homecoming set that saw all three Cougar squads earn victories.
The JV boys won the game, 51-34, and Hoover said he was happy to be able to get all the players on the court for the season finale.
“It was nice to get a lot of kids playing time,” he noted.
After jumping out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter, Escalon kept the pressure on and outscored Hilmar 13-6 in the second for a lopsided 30-9 lead at the half.
“We had a lethargic third quarter,” Hoover said, pointing out that Hilmar got themselves back in the game with a 12-2 run over that eight-minute span, trailing 32-21 after three.
Escalon’s only points in the third quarter came on a pair of free throws.
But the tide turned in the fourth as the JV Cougar boys got back on track and started to pull away, outscoring the visiting JV Yellowjackets 19-13 in the frame for the 51-34 final.
“Russell Weinbrecht led us with 21 points,” Hoover said. “Ty Harris had 12 points and Ty Bashaw had 11 rebounds and eight points.”
The team finished with a 9-3 record, good for sole possession of second place in the TVL. They were a game behind Ripon Christian, which went 10-2. Overall, the JV boys were 18-10 in Hoover’s first season as head coach.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Several of the players will move on next season to join the varsity squad, looking to build on the success they have achieved at the junior varsity level.
For the freshmen, they also ended the season on a high note, winning their Friday night game against Hilmar behind a strong team effort, setting the stage for a Cougar sweep of the visiting Yellowjackets as part of the EHS Homecoming festivities.