Going up against an undefeated Ripon Christian team on the road Tuesday, the Escalon JV Cougar boys couldn’t get their offense going, falling by a 30-point margin.
“We were missing half our offense, with illness, injury and player discipline,” head coach Nate Bartelink said. “We had a season low 26 points.”
The final was 56-26 in favor of the host Knights in the Trans-Valley League contest and they started out the game on a 13-0 run in the first quarter. Escalon, in fact, didn’t score their first points of the game until midway through the second quarter.
Ripon Christian outscored them 14-8 in the second quarter to take a 27-8 lead at the half.
“We did get it down to 14 in the third but every time we made a little run, they would hit a three and extend the lead again,” Bartelink said.
RC had a 16-10 scoring edge in the third, 13-8 in the fourth.
“They made our shots difficult,” Bartelink said of the much taller Knights, who crowded the lanes. “It was tough to drive past them.”
Wyatt McCune had eight points to lead the team on the night, Dylan Ruiz added five.
Coming off the tough loss, the JV Cougars regrouped and got a satisfying win over Ripon on Friday night, hosting the Indians and taking a hard fought 53-50 victory.
“We took a double overtime loss the first time we played them,” the coach said, noting his team had plenty of motivation to get the win this time around.
Ripon jumped out on top, outscoring Escalon 10-6 in the first quarter. The teams traded points, 14-14, in the second so the host team trailed 24-20 at the half.
The third quarter proved to be the difference, as Escalon outscored Ripon 20-14 in that frame, paced by an outstanding night from Brenden Holmes.
“He came in about the middle of the second quarter and he had 23 points for the night, in only about two-and-a-half quarters, and he had 14 rebounds,” Bartelink explained. “He made five three-pointers.”
Holmes also helped create plenty of opportunities for his teammates, the coach said, playing a strong game both in scoring and in assists.
“Kaden Christensen had 11 points and was playing great defense, had some big steals,” Bartelink said. “Dylan Ruiz had eight points.”
Perhaps the biggest points of the night, however, came from Kaidence Trejo. He had five points total, a pair of them coming in the closing seconds.
“He hit two key free throws that took us from up by one to up three with 18 seconds left,” said Bartelink.
That put the Indians into a situation where they needed the trey to tie the game and send it to overtime. But they failed to get a good look with the JV Cougars playing smart defense as the clock wound down.
“They had to put up a desperation three at the buzzer,” explained Bartelink.
The shot didn’t go for the Indians and the JV Cougar boys had the thrilling win, the bench players rushing on to the court to join their teammates in celebration.
“We made the tough plays,” said the coach. “Anytime you beat Ripon, it’s good. It was fun to have the guys win in that way, it was a great win at home.”
The JV boys stand at 4-5 in league play, 13-10 overall.
They were scheduled to be at Hughson on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and will be home for a Thursday night game hosting Hilmar at 6 p.m.
The season will end on the road, the JV squad traveling to Mountain House for their finale on Friday, Feb. 9 with a 6 p.m. tipoff.
“These are three teams we beat the first round,” Bartelink said. “We are looking to finish strong.”
The youngest Cougars did not get in the win column this week, falling to both Ripon Christian on the road and Ripon at home.
“We had a tough week,” said coach Dave Anderson. “Defense wasn’t up to par as it usually is. We have three games this last week; Thursday is our last one at home.”
The freshmen will then travel to Mountain House for the season finale on Friday, Feb. 9.