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Split For JV Boys In Two Road Contests
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A loss on the road Tuesday was followed by another road trip on Friday, but this time the game went in the win column. The Escalon JV boys basketball team went 1-1 for the week, losing first to Riverbank and then coming back to take down Orestimba by a three-point decision.

The Jan. 8 game at Riverbank had the chance to get out of control early, as the host Bruins took a 22-11 lead after one quarter. Escalon outscored them 13-12 in the second but still found themselves looking at a 10-point deficit at the half, 34-24.

"They are undefeated so far, a very good team and you have to play a really clean game to beat them," JV coach Nate Bartelink explained. "The first and third quarters did us in, we didn't do a lot of defensive rebounding."

That gave Riverbank the chance to cash in on missed shots through offensive boards and second opportunities.

"We were down by 24 at one point but then we cut it to nine; we just ran out of gas," Bartelink said.

Chapman Mello had a strong game for Escalon, running the offense and putting in 15 points on the night. Vinnie Bacay contributed 13 points, including hitting three treys. Jacob Gutierrez had 11 points as well, so three JV Cougars were in double figures in the 73-63 loss.

"I like the effort they gave," Bartelink added. "Next time we will have to limit our turnovers and their second chances."

Friday, the boys were on the road to take on Orestimba.

"They traditionally are toward the bottom of the league but they have a pretty good JV team this year," said Bartelink. "It was a pretty loud gym, a lot of back and forth action. We beat them 59-56."

A 13-9 Escalon lead after one turned in to a 31-24 deficit at half as Orestimba roared back. Making some halftime adjustments, Escalon came out strong and went on a 17-5 run in the third quarter to take the lead, 41-36, then held on to win the game by the 3-point margin.

"They had five 3's in the second quarter to help them on that run," Bartelink noted. "We hit our free throws down the stretch and Kevin Gregorio made two free throws with six seconds left that gave us the 3-point lead."

Mello was leading scorer with 16 points, his season high, against Orestimba, including four 3-point baskets. Gregorio had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Marvin Lawrence was huge in the second half, putting in all 10 of his points in the third and fourth quarters.

This will be a busy, important week for the squad as they have three games and close out the first half of league play. They will face Hilmar, Hughson and Modesto Christian.