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First Round Playoff Exit For Varsity Basketball Boys
Paced by three players in double figures, Escalon's varsity boys basketball team nonetheless fell short in their opening round basketball playoff game. They were on the road to face San Juan, the Delta Sierra League champion on Wednesday, Feb. 22 and took a 79-67 season-ending loss. They finished the campaign at 14-14 overall.

"It was a disappointing loss," admitted coach Martin Louro. "It's always tough on the road and they were a good, solid team."

The game was wide open in the first eight minutes, with the home team San Juan squad posting 27 points to Escalon's 20.

"There wasn't a whole lot of defense on either side," agreed Louro. "It was a crazy first quarter, we scored 20 but we gave up the 27."

Senior Patrick Mulry closed out his Cougar hoops career with a 19-point effort, including five treys. Junior Ryan Bartelink had 17 points and junior Alec Von Alvensleben also hit double digits with 11 points on the night.

Brian Gregorio notched nine, Gino Franceschetti had five, Matt Silveira added four and Phillip Kimble put two points on the board.

"We tied them in two quarters, we lost two quarters," Louro explained. "This is a game we could have gotten, we didn't attack the rim, we couldn't get to the free throw line and we didn't really follow our game plan."

San Juan was 21-for-27 from the foul line, Escalon went just 5-for-8 as the players didn't crash the boards and didn't drive in aggressively enough to draw the fouls. They did hit a dozen three-pointers and 13 two-pointers, but didn't get enough chances from the charity stripe to keep up with the host team.

"We have kids with some skills, they just need the court sense," added Louro.

The teams tied 13-13 in the second quarter so San Juan had a 40-33 lead at the break. A 19-14 edge for San Juan in the third made it 59-47 and the teams each scored 20 points in the final frame for the 79-67 verdict.

"That was a tough way for our seniors (Mulry, Franceschetti and Austen Cardoza) to go out," Louro said. "Those are some special kids."

San Juan came in at 18-9 overall and with an 11-1 mark in league. They went on to lose in the second round to Trans-Valley League runner-up Riverbank on Friday night, Feb. 24.

"We needed to pressure the ball and we didn't do it enough," added Louro. "We gave up a lot of easy baskets."

The basketball boys will have a few weeks of down time, the coach added, then will have the option to attend open gym on Monday and Wednesday nights starting later this month, with some spring tournaments and the summer league also scheduled, in addition to some team camps.