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Tough Games Are Learning Experience For JV Boys
Traveling to the Merced Tournament for a trio of games leading up to the New Year, the Escalon JV basketball boys didn't get a win in tournament play, but did gain some valuable experience. They played games against Merced, Atwater and Turlock, wrapping up the appearance with the game against Turlock on Wednesday, Dec. 31. Then they hosted Manteca in their first game of the New Year on Friday, Jan. 2.

"It was our toughest stretch of the season, four big schools," JV coach Nate Bartelink said of facing off with the higher division opponents. "The wins didn't come but we definitely got better, these games will help us in league."

They took on Merced in the opener of the tournament, losing 60-43.

"They outscored us 22-4 in the first quarter, not much was going right," Bartelink said.

Escalon was a few points better, 12-8, in the second quarter but still trailed 30-16 at the half. Merced was able to outscore Escalon 19-18 in the third and 11-9 in the fourth to keep the JV Cougars at bay.

"Gino Franceschetti and Dominic Louro had 11 points each, Patrick Mulry had seven points and Logan Stewart had 12 rebounds," Bartelink said.

Stephonn Smith added six points to the total.

Tuesday against Atwater, the Cougar JV squad lost in overtime, battling the Falcons to a 58-54 decision.

"We came on strong at the end and forced the overtime, it was another close game down the stretch," explained Bartelink.

Escalon's score by quarters was 8, 5, 15, 23 and just three points in the extra frame. Atwater countered with quarter totals of 3, 17, 18, 13 and seven in the overtime period.

Franceschetti was the leading scorer for Escalon with 17 points, including four 3's, with all his points coming in the second half. Louro had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Mulry added eight points.

"Wednesday we lost against Turlock, we lost 67-60 and they were one of the better teams we've played this year," said Bartelink.

Mason Silva had a breakout night with 20 points including four 3's in the loss, Louro was right on his heels with 19 points and Mulry put in 11.

Back on the home court for their first game in January, the JV Cougars hosted Manteca and lost a 71-50 decision. They were down 10-2 early before battling back to cut the Manteca lead to 17-12 after one quarter.

"I was proud of the way that they didn't give up after that first quarter," Bartelink said, noting that nothing was going well for the JV team early.

Each squad scored the same amount of points in the second quarter as they did in the first, with Manteca leading 34-24 at the half. Continuing to battle, the home team cut the deficit in the second half, but couldn't hang on against the visiting JV Buffaloes.

"We got to within four at one point," explained Bartelink.

Franceschetti had 14 points to lead the team, including four 3's, with Colton Smith contributing solid minutes and 13 points. Louro had nine points and 10 rebounds, with six points each from Silva and Mulry.

The boys were scheduled to travel to Amador for a Tuesday game, Jan. 6, after The Times went to press. They host Argonaut on Thursday, Jan. 8 with a start time of 6 p.m.