Five games over six nights made for a very busy week for Escalon’s JV basketball boys.
The squad began the busy stretch on the road at Argonaut for a Monday, Dec. 5 contest.
“We lost to a good team,” said JV head coach Nate Bartelink. “They applied a lot of pressure, we had 27 turnovers.”
The team fell behind early but never stopped battling, the coach added.
“We were always trailing but the kids played pretty hard,” Bartelink said. “Zach Pickett had 10 points and 10 rebounds.”
Frank Leal had seven points and Mike Carroll and Lucca Dutra each had six points.
Tuesday the boys hosted Calaveras for a home contest and fought to a 40-37 victory.
“They hit three 3’s in the first quarter before we even really knew what happened,” Bartelink said.
The team didn’t panic, but rotated top defenders Lucca Dutra and Chase Granis against the Calaveras three-point shooter and kept him under control the rest of the way. After trailing early, the JV Cougars steadily climbed back in to the contest and took the lead, extending it to 10 points heading into the final frame.
Calaveras refused to go quietly and the JV boys had to hang on for the victory, finding a way to keep the visitors at bay.
Dutra paced the team with a 15-point night and Clayton Ferreira added 10.
Then it was off to the Atwater Tournament, Thursday through Saturday, with one game each day. Though none of them went in the win column for Escalon, Bartelink said each game made his team a little bit better, as they battled against three Division II teams.
Taking on Atwater in the Thursday round robin tournament opener, they fell by a 47-37 final score. A slow start saw Escalon score just 10 points in the first half and again, turnovers were an issue. Leal had 11 points on the night, Dutra added eight and Pickett had seven.
Friday saw the JV boys take on El Capitan of Merced in a game where they had the opportunity to win, but couldn’t capitalize.
“It was a game unlike any I’ve ever seen,” Bartelink said, noting that El Capitan had 38 fouls called against them, putting Escalon into a bonus situation in the first quarter and sending them to the line multiple times.
“We got to the line, we shot 51 free throws,” explained Bartelink. “The bad news is we only made 16 of them.”
Escalon took a 51-45 loss, leaving too many free throws on the table, bypassing the chance to win.
“Lucca Dutra had the best game I’ve ever seen him play, he had 25 points, he was just everywhere,” said Bartelink.
Six players fouled out for El Capitan but the JV Cougars just could not capitalize. Leal added seven points in the loss.
“Then we took on Buhach Colony, another great team and it was a 63-46 loss but the score wasn’t indicative of how close the game was,” Bartelink noted. “We missed a lot of free throws again.”
The difference in the game, however, was the 11 three-pointers that Buhach Colony put in, the JV Cougars having no answer for the outside shooting game of their opponent.
Dutra and Carroll each had 10 points, while Pickett and Ferreira each had seven.
Bartelink said though his JV team went 0-for-the-tournament, they got to see some good teams and gained valuable experience.
“We put in a lot of time and that will benefit us,” he said of being on the court for the multitude of contests this week.
The JV boys are now 3-4 overall and were scheduled to play at Amador on Tuesday, after The Times went to press. Then, they will get some time for practices, eager to work on those areas of the game where they need to improve. They will host a tournament at EHS between Christmas and New Year, with both JV and freshman squads taking part in the tourney.