Home to host Ripon on Tuesday, Jan. 8, the Escalon varsity basketball boys found themselves on the wrong side of a 59-47 final score. But head coach Nate Bartelink took the loss in stride, happy with some of the things he saw from his team.
“Ripon is the best team in league, no doubt about that,” Bartelink said. “They didn’t lose last year in league and we held our own against them.”
Starting out with some man-to-man defense, the Cougars were down 19-11 after one quarter. They switched to a zone defense after that and stayed close, never letting the visiting Indians get too far ahead.
It was a 32-21 lead for Ripon at the half.
“That was a decent position to be in at the half,” Bartelink said.
Escalon chipped in to the lead with a 15-12 edge in the third, trailing 44-36 after three.
“We played real hard and we were 17-for-23 from the line, our free throws kept us in the game,” explained the coach. “I’m proud of the boys, proud of the way they battled.”
Ripon outscored Escalon 15-11 over the final eight minutes to take the win.
Brad DaDalt and Kam DeWeerd each had 14 points for the Cougars in the loss.
“It was Brad’s best game of the year,” noted Bartelink.
Brenden Holmes added 12 and though the game was a loss, Bartelink said there was value in the contest.
“We earned their respect,” he said of showing Ripon they can be taken seriously on the court.
The squad traveled to Livingston to take on the Wolves in Friday night action, Jan. 11.
“I was happy with how we responded, we came away with a 59-49 win,” Bartelink said.
It was the first league victory of the season for the varsity squad.
“The referees called it real tight both ways,” added Bartelink.
Escalon had a 15-9 lead after one quarter and were up 20-16 at the half. They were a point better than the host Wolves, 18-17, in the third and enjoyed a 21-16 run in the fourth to seal the hard-fought win.
“We were just 16-for-30 in free throws but we made enough of them, especially late, to make it count,” Bartelink said.
Escalon also had to call on its bench, with four players in foul trouble.
“Guys stepped up that hadn’t gotten a whole lot of minutes,” Bartelink noted.
Clayton Ferreira had six points on a pair of threes while Kaidence Trejo and Austin Terra provided solid minutes off the bench as well.
“They came in late in the third and finished the game, they stayed composed,” Bartelink said.
DeWeerd had 26 points and 15 rebounds to lead the team. Dylan Ruiz added nine points and Holmes chipped in with eight.
“It was a good road win and hopefully we can build on that,” Bartelink said.
The team was scheduled to host Hughson on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and will be at Hilmar on Friday, Jan. 18.
The varsity boys are 1-3 in league, 7-13 overall.
“We’re taking them one game at a time, playing hard, working hard,” Bartelink said.
Two wins this week lifted the JV Cougars to a 3-1 record in TVL play, 12-8 overall. They got a 75-71 win over Ripon on Jan. 8 at home, then traveled to Livingston and battled to a 61-56 win there on Friday night, Jan. 11.
Hosting Ripon, coach Brandon Hoover called it “the most gratifying win of the year, it’s always nice when you beat Ripon.”
Russell Weinbrecht asserted his dominance, going off for 33 points, including eight 3-point baskets.
Escalon had a 37-35 lead at half and were able to keep Ripon from overtaking them.
“We were ahead the entire game, they made a push at the end but we held on,” Hoover said.
Ty Harris added 22 points and also was key on defense.
“We ask so much of him on defense, he shut down their best player,” Hoover noted.
Also in double figures on the night was Logan Webster, putting in 14 points.
Hoover added that Weinbrecht continues to impress every time out.
“He’s as pure a shooter as you’re going to see,” the coach noted.
Friday night, the boys headed to Livingston and needed everyone to contribute in the road victory.
They built up a 31-23 lead at the half, with Weinbrecht again pacing the team offensively, scoring 24 points on the night.
“Ty Bashaw had 15 points, Logan Webster had 15 points and we got a nice defensive effort from Demetrius Teixeira,” Hoover explained.
The team was slated to play at home Tuesday, hosting Hughson, after The Times went to press. They are back in action for a road game Friday, Jan. 18 at Hilmar.