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Basketball Boys Battle - Late Surge Lifts Crusaders Over Varsity Cougars
Giving Modesto Christian just about all they could handle, the Escalon varsity basketball boys came up just a few points short in a 57-51 loss at home on Jan. 24.

The Tuesday contest was the only one of the week for the varsity squad, as they had a bye on Friday. And they needed the rest, after battling the taller, more athletic Modesto Christian squad in Escalon.

"We seemed to give the crowd their money's worth," head coach Martin Louro noted. "The guys battled, they competed ... We just came out on the wrong end."

The supportive home crowd gave Escalon the early edge, as the Cougars took a 16-14 lead after one period. They used effective passing to set up the shots and some key treys from Patrick Mulry to gain the upper hand.

"Our game plan was to fire up a lot of 3's," Louro explained. "We've got guys who can shoot, we need them all to be hot on the same night."

Defensively, it was tough for the Cougars to match up with the taller MC squad but Louro said his team stayed with the game plan in that regard as well, putting together a very solid effort.

"My kids did everything they could to get a body on them," he said.

But after just a couple of big men in Brian Gregorio and Matt Silveira, the height of the Cougars drops off dramatically, whereas MC can throw multiple 6-foot-plus players out on the court.

"They had 22 offensive rebounds for 26 points, we had 12 offensive rebounds but were only able to muster seven points off them," Louro said of what helped make the difference in the game. "They were 15-for-21 from the (free throw) line, we were 4-for-9."

Mulry had 23 points on the night, with four treys and 1-for-2 from the line in addition to five field goals. Ryan Bartelink had nine points on three 3's and Gino Franceschetti added six points along with several steals and deflections.

Leading 33-29 at the half, fatigue started to figure in to the Cougars' game in the second, with Modesto Christian outscoring them 15-10 in the third quarter to lead by one, 44-43, entering the final frame. The Crusaders outscored the Cougars 13-8 in the final period to take the win.

Escalon will travel to MC for the regular season finale later this month.

"We still believe we can beat them," Louro said of pushing MC in the Tuesday night game. "They still have the athleticism, they still have the talent. But we're not afraid of them anymore.

"They do not have the fear factor and I think we showed that if they take a night off, they're going to get beat."

Escalon is now in the second round of league action and will be at home to host Ripon in a key Trans-Valley League match for Homecoming on Friday night.