Wins against Modesto and Johansen went on the books for the varsity basketball boys this past week.
They played three games, winning two and losing one, the loss came on the road at Calaveras.
Monday, Dec. 19 they were at Modesto High School and took a 68-59 victory.
The Cougars outscored Modesto 22-9 in the first quarter and 22-20 in the second for a 44-29 halftime lead. That held up, even though Modesto was a few points better than Escalon in both the third and fourth quarters.
“We played pretty well at times offensively on this night to get and maintain a double digit lead. We tied our season high in scoring,” noted head coach Nate Bartelink. “We had a couple opportunities to put them away and failed to do so. We were a little sloppy with the ball and our defense was not consistent.”
Leading the team were Jack Anderson and Ethan Garza.
“Ethan is starting to find some success from behind the three-point line, but where he is really effective is when he is aggressive and gets into the paint. He’s a hard cover for the opponent,” Bartelink said. “Logan Huebner played a great game; scoring nine of his career high 16 points in the first quarter. We also had some productive minutes from Cam Dalpogetti.”
Anderson paced the effort with 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists; Garza had 17 points. Huebner added seven rebounds to go along with his 16 points while Sammy Jimenez had five points, nine rebounds and six assists. Zack Valencia had four points, six rebounds, and four assists.
On Tuesday, Dec. 20 it was a road trip to Calaveras and the Cougars fell by a 71-43 final.
“Calaveras was ranked number two in our section at that point, so we knew we were in for a tough match-up. They have a couple players that pose some challenges defensively, and they are really well coached,” Bartelink pointed out.
The host Calaveras RedHawks team had the upper hand in each of the four quarters, outscoring Escalon 18-12, 14-11, 19-12, 20-8, for the victory.
“Looking back, I think I over-coached this one. I got a little too cute and changed up what we have been doing defensively most of our season,” the head coach admitted. “Calaveras had been scouting us so I decided to play more man defense in this match-up, as opposed to the zone we have been running most of the season. I thought we matched up well defensively with them, but that turned out to not be the case on this night.”
Offensive leaders for the Cougars were Garza with 19 points, Anderson with 14 and Jimenez with six.
“Our man defense was bad on all three levels; in transition, guarding the ball in the halfcourt, and our helpside defense. They had 44 points in transition, which is one more point than we scored in total,” Bartelink said. “Calaveras got too many high quality shots at the rim and at the same time made us take tough, contested shots on our end.”
Simply put, said the coach, Escalon needed more offensive contributions to beat this very good team on the road.
“With as poorly as I feel we played, we trailed by only seven points with two minutes left in the third quarter, but Calaveras then went on a 10-0 run to put us away,” added Bartelink. “I don’t believe they are 28 points better than us, but give them credit; on this night they were. I’d love to have another shot at them down the road.”
Rebounding on the home court Thursday, Dec. 22, the Cougars hosted Johansen and won 63-32. The home team built up a 38-14 lead at the half and outscored the Vikings 25-18 over the final two quarters to seal the win.
“Coming off Tuesday’s loss at Calaveras, I challenged the players to come out with the appropriate energy and effort and to put Johansen away early. They responded well. We started the game on a 10-0 run because of our good defense,” Bartelink explained. “We went back to playing the zone defense that we have been playing prior to the Calaveras game, but increased the pressure that we have been applying. That defense came up with 22 steals on the night, which fueled our transition game. It was a game where everyone got a good amount of playing time, which is nice.”
Ten of the players scored and all 13 provided good contributions.
Anderson had an efficient game, scoring 20 points in only 22 minutes; 16 in the first quarter. Garza notched 11 points and five steals; Jimenez had 10 points and 5 steals and Huebner had six points and three steals.
Escalon’s varsity ended the week with an 8-4 record.
The JV boys won all three games this week. They defeated Modesto 69-47; topped Calaveras 66-46, and took a 61-42 win off the court against Johansen. They have won six in a row and are 9-3 overall.
“Their size is tough for their opponents to match-up against. Their guard play has also been solid. It’s been fun to watch,” Bartelink said.
Escalon’s freshmen lost all three games this week.
“This young group is inexperienced, but they are working hard, learning a lot, and gaining good experience,” noted Bartelink.
This week, Wednesday, Dec. 28 through Friday, Dec. 30, the varsity will be playing in the Oakdale Tournament and open up the tournament against a tough Sonora team on Dec. 28.
Escalon’s freshman and JV host their tournament on the same dates, both teams opening up with games against McNair on Dec. 28, in Escalon.