When Hilmar and Escalon High meet in any sport it’s going to be a battle.
That summarized Tuesday’s Trans Valley League meeting between the two boys basketball teams that were coming into the game winless in league so far with expectations to snap their respective losing streaks.
Despite a 31-31 score at the half that saw the Escalon Cougars work their way back, the Yellowjackets of Hilmar, with the help of seniors Jonas Tate and Carter Azevedo, powered through the final minutes of the game to capture the 57-52 victory.
“It’s Hilmar against Escalon, it can be table tennis or whatever you want to play and it’s going to be a battle,” said Hilmar head coach Craig Peterson.
Scoring has been an issue for the ‘Jackets this season so far said Peterson. The previous two games, Hilmar hadn’t made a single shot from behind the three-point line.
This time, they made three.
“Our offense the last four games, we didn’t have more than 20 points in the first half and we had 31 today, so I thought we would be able to have it,” said Peterson. “We didn’t make a single three the last two games and I knew that would be there too. We had to switch one of our offensive plays so we could get more plays for Carter and Jonas isolated on the block and it worked really good.”
Hilmar went up 18-12 after the first quarter then Escalon rallied in the second, scoring the final six to tie it at 31 apiece.
The Cougars made a push in the third that saw their lead extend to 45-42 heading into the fourth.
From there, a sick Azevedo, who was throwing up in the locker room to start the third, managed to take control of the game, quarterbacking his squad that turned the ball over just 10 times for the game.
“The last three games he has had stomach problems before the game. When we were at Riverbank he got announced as a starter but he was throwing up that is why he didn’t go out,” said Peterson. “Today he threw up again, but he battled through it, he is the Energizer bunny; he never gets tired.”
Azevedo managed to finish the game with 16 points to go with his five assists and two rebounds.
Hilmar outscored Escalon 15-7 in the fourth as they secured their first league win of the year and snapped a four-game losing streak.
“Defensively, I knew we had to stop two of their guys and hopefully all the threes they hit in the first half didn’t happen in the second and that got us along,” said Peterson. “Giving them one shot was our key in the second half.”
Hilmar goes to 8-12 overall and 1-4 in the TVL. Escalon drops to 1-18 overall and 0-5 in the TVL.
“All their games are close and they played a lot tougher competition than we did in the preseason,” said Peterson of Escalon.
Aidan Azevedo added nine points, 10 rebounds and a pair of assists.
Jonas Tate finished with a game-high 22 points to go with seven rebounds and an assist. Will Tate added six points and six rebounds.
“We knew they would send the double team to Jonas and we planned on Will to go to the back cut, thankfully, he made the lay-up and we made our free throws down the stretch and that helped,” Peterson added.
Next, Hilmar will take on Ripon at home at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.