Welcoming the undefeated, Trans-Valley League-leading Hughson Lady Huskies to town on Jan. 18, the Escalon varsity Lady Cougars got a huge win, taking a 45-37 victory off the basketball court.
Up 12-9 after one, the Lady Cougars went cold early in the second and quickly found themselves down, 18-12.
That forced head coach Joseph Dalpogetti to take a time out.
“We cleaned a few things up and were able to answer on a 5-0 run to close the quarter and only be down by one at half,” he said of trailing 18-17. “The first five minutes of the third saw Hughson take a lead, we would answer right back, and this went on until Kelsey Webster hit back-to-back three’s and Marissa Silva added on another to give us a nine-point lead to end the third.”
Escalon was then able to withstand a late rally by the visiting Lady Huskies.
“Hughson did cut it to one possession in the fourth but we had answers from Macie Vickers on a hustle play and an assist from Nelly Gomez and a dagger three from Kelsey, who finished with four three’s,” noted Dalpogetti.
Vickers finished with 19 points and Webster had 12, while Silva added eight. Strong on the boards, Vickers also pulled down 13 rebounds.
“Thursday, we headed down to Hilmar,” the coach said of taking on the Lady Yellowjackets in the tough road environment. “We had already beaten them once, in the championship game of the Waterford Tournament, and we had just come off the nice win over Hughson and we talked about how this could be a “trap” game if we came out flat.”
To their credit, the coach said, the girls “answered the bell” and came out with plenty of intensity and built up a 36-15 halftime lead.
“We gave up a run to open the third and they cut it to about 12, but after a time out we answered right back and finished the game, 58-32,” Dalpogetti said of the league win.
Rachel Farley put in 13 points to lead the Lady Cougar effort, followed by Silva with 12 and Soleil Gouzenne scored 11. Farley had 15 rebounds on the night, while Silva added 10.
“Soleil had a dominant performance on the defensive end and Annie Silveira gave us a huge spark off the bench in both contests this week,” added Dalpogetti. “We have had some complete team efforts as of late and a lot of these girls are doing the little things that will never show up in the box score, but as a team we all notice the sacrifices each other are making.”
With the wins, the Lady Cougars improved to 5-1 in league but open up second half TVL play this week, with six tough games ahead. They are 15-3 overall and were scheduled to host Riverbank on Tuesday, Jan. 25 after The Times went to press, hoping to avenge their only league loss of the season so far. They go to Ripon Christian on Thursday.
“There are a few teams that have been missing players here and there and a few games that still need to be made up that got postponed so it should be a very exciting three weeks of regular season play,” Dalpogetti said of the second half. “We are excited to be sitting where we are, but we know the second we get content with how we are playing is the second we get beat.”
The younger Lady Cougars picked up a pair of Trans-Valley League victories this week as well, mirroring the outcome of their varsity counterparts.
At home on Tuesday, it was a 43-16 win over Hughson, the team paced by Sammy Lang with 25 points and Chloe Farley notching seven. The JV girls effectively shut down the Hughson offense, taking the win.
They went on the road for their game at Hilmar on Thursday, Jan. 20, picking up their sixth straight TVL win and ending the first half of league play undefeated at 6-0. The final against Hilmar was 47-31, with a 27-point night for Lang and nine points from Sofia Brasil. Leading the team defensively were Lang and Tori Rich.