Not quite where they want to be yet, Escalon’s varsity basketball boys are nonetheless getting a clear picture of where they are.
The Cougars hosted five other schools in a scrimmage-filled Saturday on Nov. 28, facing off against each of the visiting schools.
“We had five other schools come, and at the varsity level everybody played everybody so you had five 20-minute scrimmages,” explained Escalon varsity head coach Martin Louro. “Every team is a little different, so we had five different looks.”
The scrimmages were played with a 20-minute running clock, which didn’t stop for free throws or balls out of bounds.
“You probably get about 12 minutes of actual playing time,” Louro said of the brief 20-minute time frame. “It’s just a good way to evaluate, see where you are against other schools.”
In addition to host Escalon, the Saturday scrimmages featured Merced, Atwater, Oakdale, East Union and Beyer.
“This was a pretty good level of competition, our first real look at live competition,” added Louro. “We did scrimmage East Union the week before, we went over to their place, but we played just them.”
By lining up against five different opponents in one day, the Cougars had the opportunity to see a lot of different styles and tempos.
“Early in the year, we are seeing some positives, but also definitely some things to work on,” Louro explained. “It was a good way to get a feel of where you are, what to work on.”
Escalon was scheduled to host Central Catholic in the Foundation Game on Monday, Nov. 30 after The Times went to press. The JV and varsity go to Bret Harte on Wednesday, Dec. 2 and the varsity only will travel to Oakdale for action on Thursday, Dec. 3.
A full slate of mini-games, played with a 20-minute running clock, saw Escalon’s JV basketball boys also taking the court multiple times, facing off against East Union, Beyer, Oakdale and Merced in the Saturday scrimmage at EHS.
“It was kind of a good baseline to see how ready we are,” said coach Nate Bartelink of preparing for upcoming tournament and non-league action. “We have only nine players on the roster so we haven’t been able to play 5 on 5 in practice and the speed of the game has opened our eyes the last two Saturdays in scrimmages.”
The young squad is beginning to adjust, noted Bartelink, but are still a step or two behind. They did get better in each mini-game on Saturday, the coach said.
Suiting up for Escalon this season will be Max Nicholas, Esteban Salcedo, Lorenzo Martinez, Nick Lattig, Steven Grossi, Tim Megenney, Elliott Mello, Noah Stime and newcomer Thaddeus Stern.
The team will travel to Bret Harte for a Wednesday, Dec. 2 contest, host Calaveras on Tuesday, Dec. 8 and then travel for the Buhach Tournament Dec. 10 through 12.
“We just need more court time,” Bartelink said of his players.
With a trio of tournaments this month along with a handful of non-league games, the JV squad will have time to get their game together prior to the start of Trans-Valley League play on Jan. 8.