Closing out the preseason campaign on the road, then opening up league play at home, both games went in the books as wins for the Escalon Lady Cougars varsity basketball team.
They traveled to Amador for a Jan. 7 game, coming home with a 52-42 overtime victory.
Amador “came out on fire,” said head coach Joseph Dalpogetti, making every shot that left their hands to go up 17-5 in the first quarter.
“We battled back a few times to within six but ended the half down by 10 points, 26-16,” Dalpogetti said. “We battled even in the third to remain down 10, 36-26 heading into the fourth.”
The fourth quarter was where the tide started to turn in Escalon’s favor.
“We finally started hitting the open shots that we couldn’t connect on for the first three quarters. We keep preaching for shooters to shoot and that the only shot that matters is the next one,” said Dalpogetti.
The team hit four 3’s in the quarter as Soleil Gouzenne and Hannah Boyd each had eight points in the fourth quarter alone, steadily chipping away at the Amador lead.
“We squandered a couple of chances to win in regulation and forced overtime at 42 apiece,” said the coach.
Escalon brought the fire to the OT period, scoring 10 points while Amador went cold and the Lady Cougars escaped with the 52-42 non-league victory.
Boyd hit a three on the opening possession of the extra period, with Brooke Campbell then scoring five, on a steal and lay-up and hitting a trey from the left wing.
“Rachel Farley added a mid-range two to all but seal it,” added the coach.
Gouzenne and Boyd each had 14 points on the night, Campbell had 11 points and eight steals.
“We have good leadership from Hannah to keep everyone’s heads on straight as we had to weather the storm in the first half,” Dalpogetti said.
Thursday, Escalon welcomed Riverbank to town, the Lady Bruins coming off a solid win at Hilmar to open their league campaign. Escalon, in its first league game of the season, held on for the win, 58-55.
Riverbank, however, came out fast and went on an 8-0 run to start the game and went up 15-11 after one period.
“I was proud of the effort to weather the storm two games in a row and keep battling,” Dalpogetti said of working to get back in the contest. “It’s easy to give up when it seems like the other team can do no wrong but we showed toughness through this game with all the ebbs and flows, which is basketball.”
The Lady Cougars were able to crack the 3-2 zone in the second quarter and outscored Riverbank 17-8 in the period, including a buzzer beating three by Increasing the lead to double digits early in the third, Escalon had a 41-34 lead after three. Riverbank, however, refused to go quietly and put up a fight in the fourth quarter, cutting it to a one possession game more than once.
Escalon worked to maintain their composure and, up by three points with less than 10 seconds left, Katie Karp put the game away by sinking a pair of free throws to make it a 58-53 lead. Riverbank hit a bucket as time expired but it wasn’t enough as Escalon got the 58-55 victory.
Ryilee McNulty had 17 points and seven steals, Karp added 15 points and Rachel Farley chipped in with 10 points for the victory.