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Senior Night Sees Escalon Sweep Past Hilmar On Hardwood
Boys Basketball 02-15-23
Prior to tip off on Feb. 8, the six seniors on the Escalon varsity basketball team were honored and escorted to center court by their families. The team members wore their No. 9 warm up jerseys – the 9 in honor of the late Greg Largent, a longtime former coach for EHS and teacher at El Portal. Senior honorees were Derek Fragoso, Logan Anderson, Sawyer Mello, Jack Anderson, Julian Borrego and Zack Valencia. At right is head coach Nate Bartelink. Marg Jackson/The Times

Only one game was on the schedule for Escalon’s varsity basketball boys this past week … but they made it memorable.

Hosting Hilmar and honoring their six seniors, the varsity boys crafted a 78-37 victory to nail down second place honors in the Trans-Valley League with an 8-4 record.

The game was played Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Escalon and the varsity capped off a Cougar sweep of the Yellowjackets and, in the process, saw senior Jack Anderson reach the 1,000-point plateau for his career.

Escalon ran out to a 27-12 lead in the first quarter and had a 31-19 advantage at the half. They outscored Hilmar 47-19 over the final two quarters to take the big win.

Seniors honored prior to tip off were Jack Anderson, Logan Anderson, Julian Borrego, Derek Fragoso, Sawyer Mello and Zack Valencia.

“It was a great night to honor our six seniors and their families for their four-year commitment and their many contributions to the basketball program. We started an all senior starting line-up and they came out and played really well,” head coach Nate Bartelink said. “Jack Anderson scored 11 of our team’s first 13 points in the first few minutes, and on his 11th point, and fittingly on a made three-pointer, he eclipsed the 1,000 career varsity points milestone. That benchmark is a sign of an amazing high school career.”

It was also the third consecutive year that Escalon has had a player reach that level.

“Our program has been fortunate to have a few in this club; most recently Russell Weinbrecht and Brenden Holmes the last two seasons, and also Jack’s dad, Dave, who graduated in 1995 and is our current head JV coach,” said Bartelink. “I’ve said it many times, but no one in our program put in more work the last four years than Jack has. I’m extremely happy for him to be able to accomplish this. He’s the current face of our program and an excellent example of what can be accomplished through consistent and intentional hard work.”

After roaring to the early lead, the Cougars did cool off a bit, having to adjust to a change in the Yellowjacket game plan.

“In the second quarter, we lost some of our momentum when Hilmar switched to a zone defense,” Bartelink explained. “The second half we played at a really high level on both ends. The defense was good, we were sharing the ball on offense, and the team was hitting shots at a high rate, specifically from the three-point line. We made a season high 16 three-pointers on the night. I don’t remember a time where any of my teams over the years hit that many. It was a great way to end the regular season.”

At halftime of the varsity game, the senior cheerleaders were honored at center court with their families and included Kiarra Gallasso, Johanna Romero, Ashley Wells and Makayla Wentzell. A special presentation was also conducted for Jack Anderson, with his dad Dave presenting him with the commemorative 1,000-point basketball trophy.

“There were a lot of highlights on the night; recognizing our seniors, Jack scoring a season high 32 points, while making a season high seven three-pointers, and joining the 1,000 point club, Derek Fragoso scoring a season high 10 points, Cam Dalpogetti making two three-pointers for six points, Sawyer Mello giving us great energy and activity, AJ Cerasi making a big three, and us having 12 of our 15 guys score a season high 78 points,” Bartelink said.

Escalon improved to an 18-10 overall record with the win over Hilmar and claimed sole possession of second place in TVL with an 8-4 mark.

“This is the highest our varsity team has finished in the TVL standings since the 2005 season,” Bartelink noted. “It was good enough to earn a number seven seed in the CIF SJS Division IV playoff bracket. This is the highest playoff seed our program has earned since the same 2005 season, when that team won the section title.”

With a home game, the Cougars are looking forward to hosting No. 10 Orestimba, which comes in at 21-7 overall and 12-0 in the Southern League, taking the league championship. Game time is 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

“Anytime a team wins 20 games in a season and goes undefeated in their league, they’re doing something right. We are going to have to play well to be able to win and advance,” Bartelink said. “We are very excited and grateful for the opportunity in front of us. Us being able to host a playoff game is not only about this current team. It’s about the teams that came before this one, that laid the foundation that this current squad is building upon. I hope the community, and some alumni, come out and pack the Cougar Dome on Wednesday night.”



The JV Cougar boys beat Hilmar 72-51; they went 22-6 overall; 9-3 in the TVL.

“They had an amazing season. They have some talented players that will fit in nicely at the varsity level next year,” said Bartelink.

Head coach Dave Anderson was also pleased with how his team wrapped up the campaign, getting contrib