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First Round Loss Ends Season For Varsity Basketball Girls
Playoff Action
E sr girls
At their final home game of the season, a contest against Hilmar, the Escalon Lady Cougar basketball program celebrated its three seniors. Honored were, from left, Soleil Gouzenne, Rachel Farley and Marissa Silva. A trip to the playoffs was short-lived for the girls, falling to Orestimba on Feb. 17, ending the season with a 20-5-1 overall record. Photo Courtesy Of Whitney Fanjul

After claiming the Trans-Valley League championship, Escalon’s varsity Lady Cougars still had to suit up for a road game to open up the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV basketball playoffs.

And the road game did not go as hoped, the team falling to Orestimba’s Lady Warriors in Newman on Thursday night, Feb. 17.

Final score was 59-45 as the No. 8 seed Orestimba team got the best of the No. 9 Escalon squad.

“We were a little disappointed to be traveling, we thought that as TVL outright champs we should have gotten a home game, but Orestimba was 4-0 at the time against the TVL and we were only 1-0 vs. the Southern League,” head coach Joseph Dalpogetti said of the seeding for the D-IV bracket. “We were down 13-3 at the end of the first quarter and 29-12 at the half. They had a dominant post player that we just had no answer for. We had watched them on film and practiced against assistant coaches that played college basketball to attempt to emulate what we could encounter, but it seemed as though it didn’t matter.”

Orestimba, the Southern League champion, was able to play a solid game throughout while the Lady Cougars had trouble getting on track.

“We missed dozens of shots we would normally make from the paint and the free throw line,” the coach noted. “That was a two-fold problem, not only were we not putting the points up on the board, but we were also not able to set up our press because we were having to get back in transition.”

The host Lady Warriors were bothered somewhat by the Escalon defense as the game wore on, but Dalpogetti said there just wasn’t quite enough time for his team to complete a comeback.

“Our pressure gave them a little trouble in the second half and we made a run to cut it to 10 but we were running out of gas and couldn’t get any closer,” he explained.

Senior Soleil Gouzenne paced the team with 16 points and sophomore Macie Vickers had 13 on the night.

“Soleil had one of the grittiest and gutsiest performances I have ever witnessed, and I don’t just mean for teams I have coached,” Dalpogetti added. “She didn’t want her EHS basketball career to end and she tried like heck to drag her team to the finish line. Annie Silveira also worked herself to exhaustion in that second half tying to trap every pass to speed them up and get us the ball back.”

Orestimba had a 22-16 scoring edge in the third to go up 51-28 after three but Escalon chipped away with a 17-8 run in the fourth, still coming out on the short end of the score, 59-45.

“The locker room after the game was a tough place to be,” admitted Dalpogetti, with the team taking it to heart and feeling the sting of the loss together. “I could coach for the next 30 years and never have a team that cared like this one. There was not a single ego on this team. They all just cared to win.”

For the varsity girls, that team mentality saw them reach the 20-win mark (20-5-1) for the season and also bring home the Trans-Valley League title with a 10-2 record in league play. It was the first league title for the basketball girls since 1999.

“They not only were willing to accept their role, they all embraced and excelled in their roles,” Dalpogetti said. “We all wish we were still playing into this week, but we made lifelong memories.”

hoop cut
With a 10-2 record in Trans-Valley League play, the Escalon varsity basketball girls claimed the Trans-Valley League championship this season. Here, senior Soleil Gouzenne snips a piece of the hoop after the regular season finale. The girls advanced to the playoffs but were defeated in the opening round of Division IV play by Orestimba. Photo Courtesy Of Whitney Fanjul