Looking to get in some solid work before heading into Trans-Valley League play, the Escalon JV basketball boys got one win out of their Cougar Christmas Classic Tournament, hosted the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
“I want to say thanks to all the parents that helped out in the snack bar, at the door, in the hospitality room, they helped make it a success,” said JV head coach Nate Bartelink.
The Escalon squad started their tournament with a game against Amador on Wednesday, Dec. 28 and lost by a 56-35 final.
“We had seen them before, they have one main guy and we tried to deny him, he still got 24 points but he had to work for all of them,” Bartelink said.
Trailing 25-15 at the half, the JV team was outscored 19-11 in the third quarter and couldn’t get back in the game. They were without Lucca Dutra for the tournament and Bartelink said they missed both his presence on the court and his point production.
Mikey Carroll had nine points on the night, Zach Pickett had eight, with Clayton Ferreira adding seven and Chase Granis with six, along with playing tough defense.
Thursday, facing off with Buhach Colony, the JV boys fell by a 51-33 decision.
“We had trouble generating shots, we were missing easy ones,” Bartelink noted.
His team was down by 13 at the half and again couldn’t climb back in to the contest. Pickett and Carroll notched 11 points apiece.
“Sam Fletcher stepped in to the starting line-up for us, he did a great job on defense in our first game and he scored six points in the second game, it was a good tournament for him,” said the coach.
Friday, the team did get that elusive tournament win, edging out Atwater by a 35-34 final score.
“They beat us by 10 the last time we played them,” Bartelink said of getting a little revenge.
Still, the JV boys had to fight to keep the win, taking a double digit lead in the third quarter and then hanging on for the one-point victory.
“They turned up the pressure, we didn’t respond well,” admitted Bartelink.
Atwater hit a pair of late free throws to cut the deficit to one, with Carroll then coming up with a big steal to seal the win.
“We didn’t finish well but we had a cushion,” Bartelink said of getting the victory. “It was good to get a win in the tournament.”
Fletcher poured in 13 points to lead the team in his best game of the season. Carroll was also in double figures with 10 and Pickett added five.
Beyer took the championship of the Classic tourney, with Amador finishing second.
Opening up their Cougar Christmas Classic on a positive note, it was a decisive 63-27 win for the youngest Cougars on Wednesday night, Dec. 28. The squad got 16 points from Colton Panero, 13 from Kaidence Trejo and 12 more from Jacob Sizelove on the way to the win over Johansen. That opening night victory put them in the winner’s bracket, but the frosh boys would not get another win in the tournament, battling but falling to Lincoln of Stockton on Thursday and Heritage of Brentwood on Friday.
Escalon’s varsity boys, meanwhile, were on the road and traveled to the Columbia Tournament, where they went 0-for-3 during holiday week action.
The opener on Wednesday saw Liberty Ranch get the win, 74-50. Tommy Pangan paced the Cougars with 14 points, followed by seven from Steven Grossi.
“Very slow start. Turnovers are still our issue as they lead to easy points for the other team,” said head coach Martin Louro. “Once we adjusted to the pressure, we played okay but couldn’t climb out of the hole.”
Thursday, it was a tough, close contest that saw Escalon fall short by just a handful of points to Summerville, losing 58-52.
“For the first time in several games I saw the effort level we needed to have a chance and we led 18-11 after one, allowed them to catch up for a 29-29 half time,” Louro said. “We had a great third quarter for a 43-36 lead going into the fourth and with three minutes to play were still up seven, then came the collapse.”
Louro said the squad just couldn’t find a way to hang on to the lead.
“Despite using all of our timeouts to settle the team down we played the last three minutes like we were behind, taking quick shots and making dangerous passes that were stolen, resulting in losing the fourth quarter 22-9 and coming up short.”
The boys took the loss very hard, the coach noted.
“If we responded correctly it could have been a turning point for us, however our response was to play the next day with a half-hearted effort resulting in our most embarrassing loss of the season to a very beatable Golden Valley team, 75-27,” said Louro.
Estephan Salcedo and Steven Grossi each had six points.
“We have to dig down deep and find some fight, some competitive spirit, and some of that Cougar pride Escalon is known for,” Louro said of putting losses behind them and getting ready for Trans-Valley League play. “These guys owe it to everyone that has ever put on that uniform to play harder but most of all they owe it to themselves. We have a bad case of what we call the disease of me which means the guys are not playing as a team. When we play hard and as a team we can compete and have a chance against anyone.”
Louro said there have been glimpses of that, but not enough as of yet.
“We will continue to prepare and try to be better as we enter into league,” the coach said.
All three Cougar teams start league play this week; they were on the road at Riverbank on Tuesday, Jan. 3 and head to Ripon for a Friday night game, Jan. 6.