A three-point loss, a one-point win on a buzzer beating shot from 3-point range – both games for the Escalon JV basketball boys were thrillers this week on the court.
They started the week off with a 60-57 loss to Hilmar, hosting the Yellowjackets on Tuesday, Jan. 27.
“We missed some defensive assignments in the third quarter,” coach Nate Bartelink said of Hilmar stretching out a 2-point halftime lead with a 19-13 run in the third quarter.
Escalon battled back to outscore the visitors over the final eight minutes but fell just a bucket from beyond the arc short of sending the game into OT.
“We had a chance to get the ball and tie it at the end,” Bartelink said. “It was a good effort, a hard learning experience.”
Tommy Pangan had 14 points to lead the JV Cougars, with the squad also looking to other players to step up in the absence of some team members.
“We were short two of our post guys,” Bartelink said, noting that the JV team has been grappling with illness like many of the other Cougar squads.
That did give some other players an opportunity to contribute, and Blue Capps started, providing a strong inside presence and putting in 13 points. C.J. Gumbs, Bo Capps and Zack Gardner had eight points apiece.
Friday night, the JV team was back at it, hosting rival Ripon in the second of three Homecoming games on the evening’s schedule.
This one literally went down to the buzzer, and Escalon came away the winner with the unlikeliest of heroes, Blue Capps hitting a 3-pointer as time expired to get a 57-56 win.
“We battled,” agreed Bartelink. “It went down to the last possession and I was happy to see them get that kind of win, nice to have the big crowd there.”
Ripon had a 15-10 lead after one and the teams traded points in the second, 13-13, for a 28-23 Indian lead at the half. Escalon went on a 14-8 run in the third, leading 37-36 headed into the final frame and the furious fourth quarter flurry saw each team put 20 points in the bucket including Capps’ game-winning shot, which sent his teammates and the crowd into wild pandemonium.
“I don’t know what happened,” Blue Capps admitted of the final shot.
The sophomore said the plan with just a dozen seconds left and the team down by two was just to attack heading up the floor, looking to get a good shot.
He credited teammate Tommy Pangan for finding him open in 3-point range, even though that’s not usually a shot he takes.
“I thought it was five feet over the basket,” Capps said of his initial reaction after the ball left his hands. “But then it was crazy, just intense, it went in and I lost my head.”
As did players and coaches who swarmed the court, thrilled with the Homecoming win.
“He doesn’t shoot 3’s,” Bartelink confirmed of Capps. “But he wasn’t afraid to take the shot … I can’t think of a better ending.”
Capps and Gumbs each had 18 points, with Capps also pulling down nine rebounds. Pangan had seven points.
The JV boys went 2-4 through the first round of league play, though the losses have been close ones, and Bartelink is hoping they can get some of those close games into the win column in the second half. They will host Hughson on Friday at 6 p.m. and were slated to play at Riverbank on Tuesday, after The Times went to press.