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Battling Varsity Boys Grind It Out
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Splitting their games this week, the varsity Cougar basketball boys won at home and lost on the road in Trans-Valley League action.

Escalon defeated Hilmar in a Tuesday, Jan. 27 contest by a final of 52-45.

"It looked more like a football contest out there early on," said coach Mike Backovich. "The kids were banging up and down, the referees were letting a lot of things go. Both players and coaches were frustrated over what would be allowed."

Escalon made the difference at the free throw line in the second half, 14-for-19 over the third and fourth quarters, including a 12-for-16 run in the final frame.

"We had four juniors, Marc Backovich, Grant Goedhart, Anthony Suniga, and Marcus Savage, all in double figures," Backovich noted. "It was a good win."

Goedhart led the way with a dozen points, Backovich put in 11 and both Suniga and Savage had 10 points. Nine of Backovich's points came from the free throw line, the junior sinking 9-of-11 shots from the charity stripe.

Friday, the varsity went on the road and played at Livingston, falling to the Wolves at their Homecoming, 70-66.

"We stayed close but this was another game in which the referees let 'em go," Backovich said.

Livingston took a 10-8 lead after one quarter and edged ahead, 24-18, at the half.

Both teams pumped up the volume in the second half, scoring more than 20 points each in both the third and fourth quarters. Escalon was two points shy of host Livingston in the third, four points better than the Wolves in the fourth but fell a little short of catching them in the end.

"They shot the ball much better this time and made some key shots down the stretch," Backovich said of the Wolves. "They did screen and rolls, got some inside shots, made some adjustments against us and it was a well-fought game."

Nine different players got into the scoring column for the Cougars, a well-rounded effort.

Savage led all players with 15 points on the night, including a 3-point basket. Steve Gentry poured in 14 points, all of them coming in the fourth quarter, and Goedhart was also in double figures with 10 points. He was 5-for-8 from the free throw line.

Now, the Cougars will prepare for Homecoming of their own, hosting Riverbank in Friday night action, Feb. 6. Crowning of the Homecoming King will be at halftime of the varsity game, scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.

"We have a couple of tough games this week, Patterson and Riverbank," noted Backovich. "We'll see what we come up with."