On the road for their season finale against Mountain House, the Tuesday, Feb. 16 contest didn’t go the way Escalon’s JV Cougar basketball boys hoped.
They ended up on the wrong end of a 49-37 final, said head coach Nate Bartelink.
“The last couple of years we have finished at Mountain House, they are pretty new so they don’t have the same TVL (Trans-Valley League) rivalry feel yet,” Bartelink said of facing the Mustangs. “It was a (school) vacation day as well; it was kind of tough to motivate the kids.”
Escalon had an unusual night in that they were cold and sloppy … shooting just 14-of-50 from the field, just 7-of-24 from the free throw line and they also committed 26 turnovers.
“That’s a recipe for not much success,” said Bartelink. “With all that said, we were still in the game. It was an ugly game; we were just a little uglier than they were.”
The JV Cougars were up 12-9 after the first quarter but host Mountain House outscored them 14-11 in the second, tying things up at the half, 23-23.
“Our second half was worse,” admitted Bartelink, with the host team scoring just eight points in the third quarter but the Cougars netting just two.
It was an 18-12 run for Mountain House in the final frame, leading to the 49-37 victory for the Mustangs.
“We could not find any offense at all,” Bartelink said of the second half. “We tried to make a little run in the fourth, but they still outscored us.”
Estephan Salcedo had eight points in the loss, Max Nicholas had seven and Sahil Prasad added six.
“It wasn’t the ending we were hoping for,” admitted the coach. “But if we kind of take a step back, on the whole the year was very successful, we took second place in a very competitive Trans-Valley League, we finished 14-13 overall and were 8-4 in league.”
Bartelink said despite a slow start in preseason play, the JV boys stayed the course, working hard and staying focused.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids, they showed up every day to play regardless of how things were going, they embraced the process,” the coach said. “They competed for that title, they didn’t get down on themselves when things weren’t going their way, they kept to the grindstone. They showed a lot of heart in all games.”
Bartelink said he is confident the JV players will do well as they move on to the varsity level next year.
“There should be good things happening the next two years,” he noted. “They also all were very respectful and appreciative, always thanking me and the rest of the coaching staff … that’s not something you see very often from 15-year-olds.”