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Third place league finish for varsity basketball boys
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Recognized on Wednesday night, Feb. 7 prior to tip off for the varsity game were senior players, from left, Ethan Garza, Sammy Sandoval, Ben Fletcher, Cam Dalpogetti, Jagger Scott and Frank Richard Barrera. Marg Jackson/The Times

Crafting a pair of Trans-Valley League victories during the final week of the regular season, Escalon’s varsity basketball boys went 8-4 in league play this season. They improved to 22-6 overall with the wins over Hughson and Hilmar.

The varsity squad played at home on Wednesday, Feb. 7, hosting Hughson and it was also observed as Senior Night. That meant recognition for the six senior basketball boys and two senior cheerleaders.

Honored prior to tip off of the varsity game were players Ethan Garza, Jagger Scott, Sammy Sandoval, Ben Fletcher, Cam Dalpogetti and Frank Richard Barrera. At halftime, it was recognition for the two senior cheerleaders, Aimy VanDykhuizen and Janesa Aldasoro.

In the game, the varsity Cougars took care of business, defeating the Huskies by a 70-46 decision.

But it was the visitors who took the early lead, running out to a 15-12 first quarter advantage. Escalon regrouped and turned the tables to post a 23-10 scoring edge in the second for a solid 37-25 lead at the half. Escalon outscored Hughson by just two points in the third but put the game away with a 14-2 run in the final frame.

“It was a great night to be able to honor our six seniors and their families for their countless contributions to the boys’ basketball program over the last four years,” said head coach Nate Bartelink. “Keeping with tradition, we had an all-senior starting line-up; Ethan Garza, Ben Fletcher, Cam Dalpogetti, Jagger Scott and Frank Richard Barrera; Sammy Sandoval entered the game early in the first quarter.”

The fast start by the Huskies wasn’t much of a surprise, added Bartelink.

“Hughson came into this game playing better in the second half of league play, with close losses against the other better teams in the league. We had a pretty slow start to the game but started to separate ourselves throughout the game,” he noted. “Sam Jimenez, Ethan Garza, Ryan Lewis, Logan Huebner and Ben Fletcher all scored at least nine points. We were able to get everyone a decent amount of playing time. It was a nice way to celebrate our seniors. They have done a good job of leaving our program in a better place than they found it.”

Jimenez paced the team with 17 points, seven rebounds, and five steals. Garza had 15 points, Lewis was in double figures with 10 and Fletcher was right behind with nine points. Huebner had nine points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Cougars.

“He has really been prime Logan lately, filling up the stat sheet; impacting the game in so many positive ways,” Bartelink said of sophomore Huebner.

Friday, Feb. 9 the Cougars hit the road to play at Hilmar for the Yellowjackets Homecoming. Trailing after one, Escalon picked it up to outscore the home team in each of the remaining three quarters to take an 81-53 win in the regular season finale.

“We had a slow start to this game. There was a lot of energy in the gym for the home team, with it being their Homecoming. I’m not sure if we were playing a little tight, but we missed several makeable shots early on,” Bartelink explained. “Once we got into the second quarter we found ourselves a bit and gradually pulled away as the game moved forward. Hilmar made ten three-pointers during the game, never really allowing the score to get out of hand.”

Escalon had a balanced attack, getting good production from a number of players; seven players scored at least six points.

“Ryan Murphy produced a nice double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Cam Dalpogetti hit a couple three-pointers along with another bucket for eight second half points,” said Bartelink. “Dom Arauza came in and scored a quick five points in the fourth quarter. While it wasn’t our best shooting game, you’ll never apologize for scoring 80-plus points, especially on the road.”

Garza paced the effort with16 points; Murphy added 15 points and 10 rebounds; Jimenez had another all-around effort with 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals. Dalpogetti had eight points; Huebner added seven points and five rebounds; Lewis and Barrera had six points each.

The varsity boys finished the season with an overall record of 22-6; going 8-4 in league to nail down third place in the Trans-Valley League standings.

“While our league finish did end up where we expected, it has still been a successful season so far. The 22 wins are the most regular season wins by our program in the MaxPreps era, since 2004-05,” Bartelink said.

Their overall record earned them the number five seed and a home game in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs.



The JV boys split their final two games of the season, as they were 74-59 winners on Feb. 7 against Hughson but took a road loss at Hilmar on Friday, Feb. 9. Coach Dave Anderson and the JV squad played to a 6-6 mark in league action, going 12-16 overall.

The freshmen lost to Hughson and then hosted Hilmar in the season finale on Thursday, Feb. 8.

“Although we came up short both nights, we were right in the games until the very end,” said head coach Steve Largent. “A frustrating few bounces went against us against Hughson and we dug ourselves a hole early against Hilmar.”

Giving it their all in the final game of the campaign, a couple of players stood out for the frosh squad.

“We were led by Ezra Romeno on offense and inspired on the defensive side of the ball by Drew Hagan to make a valiant comeback effort,” the coach said. “Ultimately little things like missed free throws plagued us in both contests.”

The freshmen did reach the double-digit win mark for the season; they were 11-17 overall, 2-10 in TVL play.

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Senior cheerleaders, Aimy VanDykhuizen, center left, and Janesa Aldasoro, center right, pose with family members who escorted them to center court for the Senior Night recognition ceremony at halftime of the Wednesday, Feb. 7 varsity basketball game. Marg Jackson/The Times
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Lining up the shot is senior Cam Dalpogetti, one of six Cougar varsity players honored at the Feb. 7 Senior Night program. Marg Jackson/The Times