Two great wins against quality opponents.
That’s how JV boys head coach Nate Bartelink classified his team’s effort this week.
The Cougar JV boys were victorious on the road to start the week, then were winners at home on Friday night, helping the host team take two out of three Homecoming contests on the hardwood.
“We had a flu bug that ran through us but the guys are finally coming back,” said Bartelink of getting the team healthy and on the same page. “At Ripon, we got a 40-29 win in a super low-scoring game.”
The Tuesday, Jan. 12 Trans-Valley League contest saw the Escalon squad utilizing a 2-3 zone for the entire game, a strategy that ultimately kept Ripon from getting into an offensive rhythm.
“They couldn’t shoot,” Bartelink explained of the strategy working against the host Indians. “We forced them to take shots they weren’t comfortable with.”
Ripon did have an early lead, 11-7, after the first quarter but Escalon took a 17-16 lead at the half.
“The third quarter was important for us, we outscored them 7-0,” said Bartelink. “Ripon is a tough place to play and this was just a solid performance on the road.”
Escalon had a 16-13 scoring edge in the final frame, getting to the 40-point mark while keeping the host team under 30.
“Offense was hard to come by,” agreed Bartelink.
Leading the way were Sahil Prasad with 11 points and nine rebounds, Estephan Salcedo with five points and 14 rebounds. Nic Lattig had five points and seven rebounds, Tim Megenney and Steven Grossi chipped in five points apiece.
On Friday, as Escalon hosted its Winter Homecoming, the JV boys kept pace with the visitors in the first half, then used a strong third quarter to make the difference. Bartelink said along with Ripon, the Ripon Christian squad looked to be one of the TVL favorites going in to the season, and his team was able to take them down. Final on Friday night was a 63-53 win for Escalon.
The visiting JV Knights were up 10-8 after one and 28-26 at the half.
“We had back-to-back great third quarters,” Bartelink said of the Tuesday and Friday contests. “We were able to refocus at halftime and adjust, the third quarter on Friday was a huge quarter for us.”
Escalon outscored Ripon Christian 17-4 over that eight-minute period, the host team leading by a 43-32 margin entering the final quarter. Ripon Christian was a point better, 21-20, over that frame but it still meant a 10-point margin of victory for Escalon.
“We were 11-for-13 in free throws in the fourth quarter and 16-for-20 for the game,” Bartelink said of making the most of their opportunities. “It was just a real efficient game.”
Salcedo had a double-double to lead the JV boys, putting in 24 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
“It was his best performance of the season, he was real aggressive, he always gives opponents fits,” Bartelink said of Salcedo.
Grossi had 13 points, including a trio of treys, and it was a season high in points for both Grossi and Salcedo on the night. Prasad put in 11 points, Megenney had six.
“Max Nicholas and Elliott Mello played good defense, they did a good job on limiting Ripon Christian’s top players,” added Bartelink.
For the JV boys, they improved to 3-0 in TVL action and the coach said a tough preseason has the team “battle tested” and ready for the rest of the league. They were scheduled to host Hughson on Jan. 19, after The Times went to press, and head out for a Friday night game, Jan. 22 at Hilmar.
“We’re in a good position,” Bartelink said.
Escalon’s youngest basketball boys, the freshman Cougars, played at Ripon on Tuesday, Jan. 12. It was a close game at halftime, with both teams having a shot at the Trans-Valley League win, but the frosh boys went cold over the final two periods.
“We just couldn’t get anything to fall in the second half,” coach Dave Anderson said. “But we are in every game because of our defense.”
Final score was a 52-42 loss, with Escalon getting balanced scoring, just not enough to take down the host Indians.
Kicking off a trio of Homecoming games on Friday night hosting Ripon Christian, this time the freshmen found a way to win.
It still wasn’t easy, as Anderson said his team got into some foul trouble, but held on for the 49-41 victory.
“Mike Carroll had 18 points for us and Luca Dutra shut down their best player, held him to three or four points, and he had 10 points himself,” Anderson noted. “Brad DaDalt hit two big 3’s for us in the third quarter to make it an 8-point game.”
Team defense again was a key, including a solid night from Chase Granis, who had his best defensive game of the season with numerous steals and rebounds.
The Friday night win was Escalon’s first in the TVL, now 1-2. They were slated to play at home against Hughson on Tuesday, Jan. 19 after The Times went to press and head out to Hilmar for a Friday night game, Jan. 22.