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Carmel Trip Successful For Varsity Boys
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Nailing down a pair of wins during their first time in the Carmel Invitational, the Escalon varsity basketball boys came home with third place honors.

They started off with a game against Alisal of Salinas on Thursday and, after a slow start, came back for a 61-44 win.

"We had a long drive Thursday after finals and we were real sluggish in the first half," explained coach Martin Louro. "At halftime we gave them a few suggestions and they paid attention."

Tied at the break, 26-26, Escalon poured it on in the second half to pull away and win by the 17-point margin.

Brian Gregorio and Gino Franceschetti had 16 points each, with nine from Patrick Mulry and seven from Alec Von Alvensleben.

"We talked about hard work, effort," Louro said of the halftime discussion. "In the second half, we played a lot more like us."

Friday's second round game saw the Cougars matched up against Seaside and they took a 67-58 loss.

"They were a pretty good team," Louro said. "But they were small, they had two guys that were maybe six foot, everyone else was around 5-7, so we had the size advantage."

The Seaside squad, however, was "fast, scrappy and relentless in ball pursuit," said Louro, and disrupted the game plan of the Cougars.

"They got to the majority of the 50-50 balls and they had a couple of guys that shot it really well."

Von Alvensleben was the defensive star, holding their best player to no points in the contest.

"He had 13 points himself while shutting out their best guy," Louro said of the monster effort.

Gregorio had 21 to lead Escalon. Down just 31-29 at the half, the Cougars caught up and then took the lead and the game was back and forth until the final couple of minutes when they had to start fouling and Seaside pulled away.

"That put us in the third place game against North Salinas on Saturday," Louro said. "We won, 54-47."

Leaders were Von Alvensleben with 19 points, Franceschetti with 12, Matt Silveira with 10.

"Matt was on their big guy, he was 6-5, 6-6, a big athletic player and Matt dominated him, held him to 10 points and had 10 of his own," Louro said. "Matt also had 12 or 13 boards, and kept their big guy off the glass, he had maybe two or three."

Escalon was up 26-23 at halftime and had an 8-point lead after three. But North Salinas closed the gap and tied it in the fourth.

"We took a time out and we just told everyone to stay calm," Louro explained. "They went back out, Gino came down the floor and hit a huge shot to get the lead back."

Von Alvensleben held off their outside threat, limiting him to seven points and the Cougars took two out of three in the tournament.

"It was a great defensive effort from start to finish," the coach said. "These were all big schools, 1500 to 2000 kids so it was nice to see that type of competition."

The tourney featured an All-Tournament Team selection for Von Alvensleben, who hit for seven, 13 and 19 points in the three games and played outstanding defense.

Earlier in the week, the varsity Cougars capped off a successful hoops night on the home court with a 77-40 win over Amador on Dec. 13.

"They're the ones that knocked us out of the playoffs last year," said Louro. "They are down from last year, graduated their two best players but we made them look pretty bad."

Another good defensive effort was key, while the Cougars were able to break the zone defense that Amador utilized.

"The guys really followed the game plan, they slowed it down, reversed the ball, got it inside, we picked the zone apart," agreed Louro.

Gregorio had 20 points, 16 of them in the first half, with 13 from Franceschetti, all in the second half, and 12 from Mulry, notching points in every quarter. Silveira was the big man on the boards, with 15 rebounds.

"He's playing well and has worked his way into the starting line up," Louro said.

After a holiday break, the Cougars host Central Valley on Monday, Jan. 2 and travel to Patterson on Jan. 4 before opening Trans-Valley League play at home against Riverbank on Friday, Jan. 6.