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Solid Weeks Of Work Put In By Summer Basketball Squads
Escalon’s Ben Fletcher dribbles in toward the basket during a summer league game against Riverbank. Though they built up a double digit lead, the varsity Cougars had to hang on for a 62-60 victory over the rival Bruins. Times Photo By Marg Jackson

Much like the regular season, Escalon’s summer boys basketball got a bit of a late start. But the Cougars suited up for plenty of action and got in some good work, said varsity head coach Nate Bartelink.

The 2021-21 school season for the basketball program was moved to spring, in ‘Season 2’ as the COVID-impacted school year featured just two sports seasons. School wrapped up in early June and the summer hoops program started midway through the month.

“We had a delayed start to our summer off-season program, waiting for the COVID tiers to be eliminated in mid-June,” Bartelink explained. “We started on June 16 and are running a four-week summer program, as opposed to the usual six-week program.”

The schedule included twice a week practices and hosting summer league games twice a week.

Varsity players also participated in a Modesto Christian-Ripon Christian-Ripon Tournament in late June.

“We finished sixth out of 20 teams, with a record of 3-2, against some good competition,” said Bartelink. “Overall for the summer, the varsity will end up playing 15 games, while the freshmen/JV are playing together for six games.”

The coach noted that the turnout has been “amazing” with consistent numbers throughout the season, with 20 players for the varsity level and just over 20 for the combined freshmen and JV level.

“I’d like to commend the players for their commitment to improvement during the off-season,” Bartelink added. “The commitment by the players is encouraging and I’m looking forward to how it translates in our 2021-22 season.”

The summer program closed out a successful run with final games on Monday, July 12. Later this summer, the team will gather together for some community service.

“We will be helping clean up Main Street Park during Park Fete, as we have been doing for several years,” Bartelink said.

Finding himself a bit smothered by the Bruin defense, Chris Vidales of Escalon looks to pass the ball off to a teammate during a recent summer contest against Riverbank. Marg Jackson/The Times