Going on the road for an opening round playoff game once again proved to be Escalon's undoing.
The varsity Cougars dropped the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV basketball contest to West Campus in a road game at Sacramento on Wednesday. The loss ended their season, the hoop boys making it to the playoffs but not getting past the first round.
"It came down to playing good team defense," said coach Martin Louro, noting that the Cougars didn't do a good enough job limiting the second chances for the host West Campus squad.
The final score was 73-63.
"We were down three at the half and it was pretty much a 5-point game all the way through," Louro explained. "The one thing we didn't do well was block out, they weren't real big but they were athletic."
By not blocking out enough, the Cougars allowed West Campus the chance for too many offensive second chances.
"On the low side, 30-plus of their points came on offensive rebounds," Louro said. "You can't win like that."
The blocking out was something the team has worked on, stressed and practiced, but was unable to put into effect for the entire contest. And, it cost them.
"Sixty-three points should be enough to win a high school basketball game, if you play good team defense," the coach added. "We were getting them to take the shots we wanted, they'd miss ... but they'd get it back."
Overall, Louro said it was a "good eight-nine battle" and the teams were evenly matched, with West Campus the eight seed, getting the final home berth, and Escalon the number nine, having to play away.
"We play them 10 times, we win five, they win five," he said of the teams matching up well.
For West Campus, being able to host the game and being more aggressive than the visitors proved to be the keys to winning.
"If it was in Escalon, it might have been different," agreed Louro, who said the team needs to continue working hard and eventually nail down a home game to start the postseason.
The final high school game for senior Alec Von Alvensleben saw the Cougar standout pour in 28 points.
"He had a nice offensive game like normal, he shot well, played well," Louro said. "We got eight points from Stephen Silveira, he did a nice job off the bench and we also had eight points and a nice game from Ryan Bartelink."
Brian Gregorio and Phillip Kimble, both seniors, put in six points apiece in the finale, Owen Pangilinan had five and did a good job rebounding for the Cougars.
"Overall this was a great group of kids and I'm going to miss them," said Louro. "We had eight seniors but we do have a good core of juniors coming back and that JV team did well so there will be a bunch of guys that will have to produce at the varsity level."
Finishing at 16-12 overall and third in the Trans-Valley League, the Cougars will take a few weeks off, then start the rebuilding process.
They will play some tournaments, have a summer league schedule and start working on skills to aid the overall team development.
"We expect to be competitive again, we really want to get a home playoff game," Louro said. "You look at the brackets, in the first round the top eight teams (host schools) won and in the second round, the top four won. It (playing at home) can make a difference."
Senior players this season for Escalon were Ryan Bartelink, Jonathan David, Brian Gregorio, Marvin Guillen, Phillip Kimble, Lance Konzen, Matthew Silveira and Alec VonAlvensleben.
Senior cheerleaders were Jessica Campa, Kaitlyn Cavanaugh, Michaela Coble, Zoey Hoskins, Mystic Madrid, Shelby Murray and Zoe Valenzuela.