Escalon’s basketball boys had a busy week, playing three quality D2/D3 opponents.
For the varsity squad, they won two out of three, while the JV boys also went 2-1 and the freshmen were 1-2 in the three games.
The varsity took a 68-37 win over Franklin to open up the packed week on Dec. 6. They outscored Franklin in each quarter, taking a 38-21 lead at the half.
“We played very well in this game from start to finish. We had good contributions from all nine guys; everyone scored. It was great to get everyone some quality playing time,” said head coach Nate Bartelink.
Jack Anderson had 20 points, Julian Borrego added 14 points, and had four 3-pointers.
“He provided a nice spark for us filling in for the injured Ben Fletcher,” Bartelink noted.
Ethan Garza had nine points, Frank Richard Barrera added eight points and six rebounds.
“Sammy Jimenez had six points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals, seven deflections; that stat line shows how many things he does well on the basketball court,” explained Bartelink. “He’s a very important part of our team.”
Thursday, Dec. 8 hosting Ceres, the Cougars fell behind by a 23-16 score in the first quarter and were behind at the half, 30-26. They continued to chip away and got the game tied, then outscored Ceres 25-12 over the final eight minutes for a 63-53 win.
“Ceres threw the first punch and it took us a little while to respond. We didn’t show up playing with the appropriate energy or focus. That was evident by the 23 first quarter points that we allowed, which is unacceptable,” the coach said. “We were down double digits in that first quarter, but our guys maintained their composure and continued to stay the course. As the game moved forward, we started to chip away at the lead and we started to take control.”
The defense locked in and it was a 22-5 Cougar run between the third and fourth quarters that made the difference.
“I was very happy with how we played the last three quarters of the game,” Bartelink said.
Anderson had 20 points with five 3-pointers and five assists; Garza had 18 points, including 15 in the second half, and four assists and Jimenez put in 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
“Jack made some big threes in the fourth quarter; Ethan was aggressive and did a great job getting to the rim. Logan Huebner made his first varsity start and made three clutch free-throws towards the end of the game to seal the victory. We took three charges that were important to building our momentum throughout the game; one each from Sammy Jimenez, Ethan Garza and Zack Valencia. Those are winning basketball plays. Our guys are buying into what we are asking of them.”
On Friday, Dec. 9 at Sierra, the varsity squad fell a few points short, 56-50.
“We had a tough time with Sierra’s zone defense. We settled too much, turned the ball over 16 times, and didn’t get in transition whatsoever,” admitted Bartelink. “On the defensive end, we didn’t do a good job guarding the 3-point line, and we did a poor job on defensive rebounds.”
Anderson got hot with three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and the Cougars were able to trim the 17-point lead down to three points on two occasions late in the game.
“We almost got it done; I was proud of the heart our guys showed. But we learned a lesson that we need to play better throughout the game to keep ourselves out of the position we found ourselves in. It’s better to learn this lesson early in the season, rather than later on during TVL play,” said Bartelink.
Anderson put in 25 points with six 3-pointers and had six rebounds, Garza had nine points, Valencia with nine points and nine rebounds and Jimenez with seven points.
The varsity is 5-1 to start the season and opened up the first CIF SJS Division IV Maxpreps rankings at #3.
“It’s nice to see that ranking, but we still have a lot of work to do still this season, and haven’t accomplished anything,” stressed Bartelink. “It’s not where you are ranked in December. It’s where you are ranked in February.”
The JV boys beat Franklin 49-42, beat Ceres 70-56, and lost to Sierra, 54-44.
Jacob Augusto had 12 points, Daniel Gonzales had 10 and Ryan Murphy had 10 in the win over Franklin, said head coach Dave Anderson. Against Ceres, Ben Ferreira had 16 points, Dominic Arauza had 17 and Murphy had 11.
In the loss to Sierra, Ferreira had 14 points, Murphy 10 and Gonzales 10.
The freshmen defeated Franklin 45-27 before losing to Ceres and Sierra.
“We picked up our first win against Franklin on Tuesday in the Cougar Dome,” said frosh head coach Steve Largent. “Isaac Petalio led the team with 27 points. Our defensive pressure in the front court was the difference in the ball game.”