Down six points at the half, Escalon couldn’t get any closer and ended up falling to the host Riverbank JV Bruins by a 53-47 final on Friday night, Jan. 25 in boys basketball action.
The road loss opened up the second half of Trans-Valley League play for the Cougars.
Riverbank started off strong with a 12-8 run in the first quarter and outscored Escalon 16-14 in the second to take a 28-22 lead into the half.
“All our points in the first quarter were put in by Dylan Ruiz,” explained head coach Nate Bartelink. “We were struggling offensively and we just could not get the stops we needed.”
Down by 15 points after three quarters, trailing 45-30, that’s when the JV Cougars dug a little deeper, slowly and steadily chipping away at the Bruin lead.
“I have to give them credit, we cut it to two points a couple minutes into the fourth quarter,” Bartelink explained. “They called a time out; we outscored them 17-8 in the fourth quarter.”
The coach said his team needed just a couple more stops late in the fourth but couldn’t quite find a way to get it done.
Kaidence Trejo, Dylan Ruiz, Clayton Ferreira, Wyatt McCune and Jacob Walden got into a good rhythm, changing the momentum of the game, as they whittled down the Riverbank lead and Bartelink said he opted to leave them on the floor as opposed to subbing out.
“I’m happy with how they played,” the coach said. “We just weren’t able to finish it out.”
Ruiz paced the team with an 18-point night.
“He played a great game,” Bartelink said. “Kaidence has played consistently for us the last several games, he had 14 points, Clayton had five points.”
Only six Cougars got on the scoresheet and though they battled back, the time ran out before the JV team could overtake the host Bruins.
Bartelink said the schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the JV boys head out on the road; they were scheduled to play at Ripon Christian on Tuesday, Jan. 30 after The Times went to press and then will be home to host Ripon on Friday, Feb. 2.
“They’re the top two teams in league,” said Bartelink.
Escalon’s youngest Cougars had two games during the week, taking on Argonaut in non-league action as well facing off against Riverbank in TVL play.
They first defeated Argonaut by a 68-54 final on Tuesday, Jan. 23. They then went on the road for a Friday night game, Jan. 25, at Riverbank and started off second half league play with a win. The final was a two-point margin of victory, 49-47.
“Both games were total team efforts,” said head coach Dave Anderson. “Scoring was spread out and we played sound defensively.”