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Basketball Battle First League Contest In Win Column For Varsity Boys
Slowly but surely the Escalon varsity boys basketball team is getting its total game together, the football players settling in to the basketball rhythm and the squad putting together some solid efforts. They won their final preseason game on the road Monday to go 10-4, then hit the road again for the Trans-Valley League opener on Friday and were victorious at Riverbank.

Coach Martin Louro said he was pleased to get the back-to-back wins, especially since they are still playing catch up.

"Overall right now we're still about a month behind in our timing, getting everyone in sync," Louro said. "What we're doing well, we have two different presses and we're really rotating well on it."

The different defensive looks have made it hard on their opponents, with the Cougars fashioning a 68-43 win on the road Jan. 3 at Central Valley in Ceres.

They took a commanding first half lead with a 24-8 run in the second quarter, then stayed a few points better than the host Hawks over the second half to take the win.

"We still have a long way to go offensively," Louro said, but noted that the defense has stepped up strong.

In the game at Central Valley, Nate Peterson poured in 24 points, many of them coming on fast breaks where he outraced the Hawks defense and got the easy buckets.

"It was probably the easiest 24 points of his career," said Louro.

Gino Franceschetti and Patrick Mulry each put in nine points in the win.

Friday, the boys headed to Riverbank for the start of the Trans-Valley League season and got a hard fought 67-60 victory over the host Bruins to start TVL play at 1-0.

"Riverbank is a really good team, they went 11-1 in the preseason and they had the unfortunate scheduling to open against Modesto Christian and us the first two league games," said Louro.

They also lost team leader Zack Gonzales in the Tuesday game against MC, suffering an ankle injury.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," Louro said of Friday's contest. "They are always scrappy, they have a lot of weapons."

Even with the loss of Gonzales for the game, Louro said he knew the Bruins would find a way to push the envelope, and it took everything the Cougars had to get the win.

"We got out early, then they whittled it down," explained Louro. "It was exactly the type of game we expected."

Escalon had an 18-14 lead after one, 37-26 at the half. Riverbank outscored them 15-13 in the third to make it a 50-41 Cougar lead entering the final frame and the Bruins also outscored Escalon 19-17 in the fourth, but couldn't quite make up the difference.

"We had three guys in double figures, we're a real balanced team and that makes us tough," noted Louro. "Who do you get ready for?"

Franceschetti paced the team with 15 points including three 3's, with 13 points apiece from Tyler Schuurman and Robbie Leal. Peterson and Mulry each had nine points, with eight chipped in by Brandon Shaw.

"They made some 3's in the second half to keep them in it," Louro added of the Bruins. "Every time we'd get a cushion, they hit a big three and that's what Riverbank does. We're fortunate to have gotten the win on the road."

Escalon also faces a tough task this week, with games against Ripon and Orestimba. They were slated to host Ripon on Tuesday, after The Times went to press, and will take on Orestimba on Thursday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m. The typical Friday night game has been moved up due to the Friday-Saturday wrestling tournament hosted at Escalon, the annual Lloyd C. Engel Tournament.