Two hard games for the Escalon JV basketball boys this week – and both went in the win column.
Head coach Nate Bartelink said the squad had precious few practices with all team members before they hit the court, but somehow they were able to notch a pair of victories on the road.
Tuesday night, they headed to Angels Camp to take on Bret Harte and came away with a nail biting 35-33 win.
“It was a challenging start to the year,” said Bartelink, noting that six of his players went deep into the football playoffs before joining the basketball team.
Bret Harte took an 8-5 lead after one quarter but Escalon went on a 10-3 run in the second to lead it at half, 15-11. Another strong quarter in the third saw the JV Cougars leading 26-16 after three and they had to withstand a furious Bret Harte flurry in the fourth. The host team outscored them 17-9, Escalon hanging on for the 2-point decision.
“We didn’t use the clock like we should have,” Bartelink explained of the team letting Bret Harte get back in the contest in the final frame.
Clock management is something that should come with more experience, the coach added.
“It was like we were playing not to lose,” he said, instead of playing to win.
Returning JV player Clayton Ferreira, a sophomore, had 11 points to lead the team. Freshman Brenden Holmes added eight points and six rebounds.
“We had three guys with four points each, Kaidence Trejo, Dylan Ruiz and Jacob Walden,” Bartelink added.
A few days later, the JV boys were back on the court, traveling to Oakdale for a Saturday contest.
“We did have three days of practice,” Bartelink said of preparing for the game.
Escalon had nine points to Oakdale’s four in the first quarter, while the host JV Mustangs outscored the Cougars 11-8 in the second. That made it a two-point lead for Escalon at the half, 17-15. They outscored Oakdale 15-7 in the third to take a 10-point lead, 32-22, into the final quarter.
They held on for a 43-39 win, Oakdale battling back with a 17-11 run in the last frame.
“They went on a 12-0 run to open the fourth,” said Bartelink. “We called a couple of timeouts and the kids showed some grit, we were able to hang on, made some free throws down the stretch.”
Holmes had a huge game, scoring 16 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Ruiz had eight points, Ferreira added seven, including two 3-point baskets.
“Jacob Walden had five points and 13 rebounds, he was a beast on the boards,” Bartelink said. “He is kind of our quarterback on defense, he sees the court well.”
Overall, the coach said he was pleased with the victories to start the non-league campaign.
“The kids are still learning, we will get better on the fly,” he said.
They were scheduled to play at Calaveras on Tuesday, Dec. 5 after The Times went to press and then will be in the Buhach Colony-Atwater Tournament with games Thursday through Saturday.
Escalon’s freshman boys, meanwhile, have gotten their season off to a 4-1 start, including solid play in the Ceres Tournament. No specific game information was available by press time.