School doesn’t resume until next week, but boys and girls basketball teams have stayed busy on the court with preseason games and tournaments.
The boys squads headed out to Summerville on Monday, Dec. 19 where the JV and freshmen came up just a little short. The varsity score was not available at press time.
For the JV boys, it was a 51-45 loss.
“I just thought we came out really flat,” said head coach Nate Bartelink. “With that being said, it was 21-14 at the half so there was not a lot of energy on either end.”
Escalon’s JV boys regrouped a bit at halftime and outscored Summerville 17-13 in the third, trailing just 34-31 entering the final frame.
“One quarter of good basketball is not enough to win,” Bartelink said, adding that the game was a bit out of the normal routine and the long trip made it a little tough on the team.
Mikey Carroll had 18 points in the contest, while Frank Leal and Lucca Dutra had eight points each.
For the freshmen, they battled to the end but ended up on the wrong side of a 45-44 score, losing to the host Summerville team. Kaidence Trejo poured in 17 points in the loss, said head coach Dave Anderson.
After the trip to Summerville, the JV boys continued their busy week, playing in the Johansen Tournament and facing off with Beyer, Riverbank and then host Johansen.
“Against Beyer we lost 69-34,” Bartelink said of the tournament opening round game. “That’s the best JV team we will face, no doubt about it. I was relatively pleased with our performance in the first half, but we ran out of gas in the third, it’s hard to keep up with them for four quarters.”
Dutra paced the team with nine points, Carroll had eight and Jacob Walden added six points.
“Happy with the effort, we were just outmanned,” admitted Bartelink.
That put the JV Cougars back on the court Tuesday, Dec. 20 on the consolation side of the bracket.
“We played Riverbank, a team in our league, it is a good measuring stick for us,” Bartelink said. “We played a good first half, especially defensively, we were up 19-11.”
The young Bruins, however, made some adjustments in the game plan and came out firing in the second half.
“I knew they had shooters, they turned the tables in the second half, hit seven 3’s and they took the lead,” Bartelink said, adding that his defenders couldn’t find a way to keep the Bruins from getting the three-point shots off. Escalon took a 47-40 loss.
“They scored 17 points in the third and 19 in the fourth,” explained Bartelink of the JV Bruins. “Hopefully next time, we make them do something else.”
While Riverbank was hitting the treys, the Cougar hitting the most buckets for his team was Mikey Carroll, who put in 32 of Escalon’s 40 points.
“Our kids followed the game plan, we were calling lots of sets to get Mikey the ball, he had a great night,” Bartelink said. “But we need more balance to have some success.”
The loss to TVL rival Riverbank in the tournament stretched Escalon’s losing streak to seven games, going back more than two weeks.
“That has been tough on the kids, but they are still working, still staying positive,” noted Bartelink.
That work ethic paid off with a victory to end the tournament, getting into the win column against Johansen on Dec. 21.
“We won 48-46 against Johansen,” the coach said. “I thought it would comfortable; we had a 15-6 first quarter lead and it was 27-20 at the half, our lead.”
The JV Vikings came out with more pressure in the second half and steadily chipped away, Escalon not able to handle the added press very well. It resulted ultimately in a 2-point Johansen lead late in the fourth quarter, the Cougars dangerously close to going 0-for-the-tournament.
“With 18 seconds left, we took a time out, then got the ball to Lucca, he made a play, a lay up to tie the game,” Bartelink explained. “Then we had to get a stop, we got the turnover, took another time out to draw up the play. With three seconds, Lucca got the ball again at half court, drove in, they fouled him at the buzzer, and he hit both free throws with no time on the clock for the win.”
Bartelink said the final minute comeback was big for his team and Dutra, with 14 points, was key in the victory.
“Free throws have been an issue for us, so it was nice to win the game at the line,” Bartelink said. “Lucca had 14 points and Mikey had 13, he had a real good tournament for us.”
Zach Pickett added eight points as the JV team ended the tournament with a win to climb back to a 4-8 preseason mark.
This week, the JV and freshmen host their Escalon Cougar Christmas Classic with games starting today, Wednesday, Dec. 28 and continuing Thursday and Friday.
The JV team opens up with Amador in a 6:30 p.m. contest on Wednesday, while the freshmen play their opening round game today at 5 p.m. in the old gym against Johansen.
Teams participating include Merced, Atwater, Beyer, Weston Ranch, Patterson, Buhach Colony and more. Look for tournament photos and results in the Jan. 4 issue of The Times.
A pair of victories made the varsity basketball girls feel a bit like road warriors, as the squad took down two teams while traveling this past week. The girls first went to Johansen on Tuesday, Dec. 20 and defeated the host Lady Vikings there by a 46-19 final.
Roaring out to a 15-1 lead after one quarter, the Lady Cougars never looked back, extending the lead to 27-8 at the half and keeping the host team at bay for the bulk of the contest.
On Thursday, Dec. 22 in their finale prior to taking a holiday break for Christmas weekend, the varsity girls crafted a 35-11 win against Galt, on the road for that game as well.
Head coach Joseph Dalpogetti is looking for team consistency as the squad gets closer to the start of Trans-Valley League play, which starts next week. The girls are scheduled to play this week in the West Coast Jamboree in Emeryville, with their first contest set for today, Wednesday, Dec. 28. TVL action for the varsity girls begins at home against Riverbank on Tuesday, Jan. 3 with a 7:30 p.m. contest.
The JV girls, with new head coach Tom O’Hare, were also winners on the road, earning a hard fought 36-29 victory at Galt on Dec. 22. They will be back in action Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. to face off with visiting Riverbank in the TVL opener.