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Holiday Hoop Action Keeps JV, Varsity Boys Busy
Three games in to the Oakdale Rotary Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament, both Escalon's JV and varsity had compiled identical 1-2 marks.

For the varsity, they won on opening day, Wednesday, Dec. 26 against Johansen in a 58-56 decision, a victory that put them in to the winner's bracket of the tourney.

"We actually got down early, we got down by as many as 15 points in the second quarter," head coach Martin Louro said. "In the third quarter, we were down by 11, 13, but battled back, we stayed disciplined."

Johansen wanted to run, said Louro, but the Cougar defense held them in check.

The Vikings had a 35-29 lead at the half and the teams traded points, 15-15, in the third before the Cougars took the win with a 14-6 run in the final frame.

"We got more disciplined as the game went along," added Louro. "And it's no coincidence that James Harrison had a big game and we won, he's a big force in the middle, he had a size advantage and he used it."

Harrison had 22 points, hitting 8-of-10 free throws, and had 15 rebounds along with a dozen blocked shots to lead the team. Tim Bacay had 12 points, Spencer Franceschetti and Doyle Niu each had eight.

"It was a huge win for us against a Division I school, a bigger school," said Louro. "It was a little confidence booster for us."

But the Cougars were shot down Thursday when they took on the Davis Spartans, losing a 78-49 decision. Niu had 11 points, Harrison chipped in with nine and Justin Gutierrez put in eight off the bench, contributing some solid minutes. Davis got the jump on the Cougars with a 23-8 run in the first quarter and never looked back. Escalon also lost Franceschetti to a wrist injury and he will miss the first couple of Trans-Valley League games, leaving the team with a hole to fill at that guard position.

On Friday, the Cougars faced off with host team Oakdale and played hard, but couldn't quite get past the Mustangs, falling 56-47.

"It really was a pretty close game, we had to foul at the end and they made their shots," Louro explained. "We didn't shoot well from the line, we were just 11-for-28 in free throws and that was the difference."

Harrison had 15 points, six blocks and 11 rebounds. Armando Becerra had 15 points as well, with seven from Niu and five by Gutierrez.

"We battled but each time we would come back, Oakdale would hit a big shot, get the offensive rebound," said Louro.

Escalon got to within a point in the third quarter but the Mustangs were able to hold them off. In the finale of the four-game, four-day tournament, Escalon's varsity was slated to take on Ripon Christian. The game was past deadline for this week's issue of The Times.

The JV boys, meanwhile, faced off with Johansen on Wednesday, Hughson on Thursday and Riverbank on Friday. Their Saturday game was also past deadline.

They started out with a tough loss to Johansen, defeated by a 70-47 margin.

"We didn't shoot the ball real well, we had a lot of turnovers," said JV coach Nate Bartelink.

Vince Aufdermaur paced the JV team with 13 points and nine rebounds. Landon Gonzales had seven and Spencer Murray and Raymond David each had six. Mac Heard chipped in five.

It was a royal battle on Thursday, with the Huskies and Cougars clawing it out on the court. Escalon had the lead entering the fourth but were outscored, 17-7, in the final frame and Hughson took the win.

"It looked more like a rugby match," Bartelink agreed of the freewheeling, hard-hitting contest. "It was pretty physical, there were bodies flying everywhere."

Hughson had a 15-14 lead at the half, Escalon held a 28-21 advantage going into the fourth. The final was 38-35 Hughson.

"They hit three 3's on us in the fourth, that got them back in the game quickly," Bartelink said.

Travis Cardoza had nine points and 11 rebounds in the loss, Aufdermaur added seven points and four steals. Donovan Gardner, Victor Vincent and Andres Ortega each had four points.

Escalon picked up a win in game three of the tournament, outlasting Riverbank 68-35 on Friday. They had a 31-17 lead at the half, with a 13-7 edge in the first quarter, 18-10 in the second.

Leading the way was Gardner, 14 points and a 5-for-5 effort at the free throw line. Cardoza was right behind with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Heard was in double figures with 12poins, David had nine points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

"It was a complete team effort, everyone scored," Bartelink said.

The JV boys were slated to face Los Banos in the final game of the tournament on Saturday.

Trans-Valley League action begins this week for the Escalon boys; they will be on the road for games Wednesday, Jan. 2 at Ripon and Friday, Jan. 4 at Modesto Christian. The first home game in the TVL season will be Tuesday, Jan. 8 against Ripon Christian.