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Hoops Play - Varsity Boys Fall Just Short Against Riverbank
Some good basketball over the course of three games only added up to one win for Escalon's varsity boys this past week.

They ended the preseason run with a 7-8 mark after splitting their final two games, then lost at home to a tough Riverbank squad in their Trans-Valley League opener on Friday.

"We played really good basketball this week, we just came up short in two," agreed coach Martin Louro. "We hadn't played since Dec. 21, but we had a good week of practice and then we played Central Valley at home on Monday (Jan. 2).

Central Valley jumped out to a 14-11 lead after one but Escalon found their game in the second quarter and went on a 23-13 run to lead 34-27 at the half. In the third quarter, it was all Cougars, a 22-8 run to take control and they coasted to a 74-49 victory.

"We had five people in double figures," Louro said.

Gino Franceschetti paced the team with 17 points, Brian Gregorio and Patrick Mulry had 12 apiece and 11 each came from Matt Silveira and Austen Cardoza.

"It was a good tune up for us, we knew we would have to battle Wednesday at Patterson.

It was a back and forth battle on Jan. 4, with the host Tigers eventually escaping with the win, 63-58.

Louro said he felt the officiating was a little one-sided, as both teams shot 3-for-10 from the free throw in the first half, and Patterson was at the line 26 times in the second half compared to Escalon's three.

Still, he said, his players needed to play better all around and not commit turnovers if they wanted to win.

"It was a real tough loss, the kids were very upset," he said.

Franceschetti had 16 to lead the team, Mulry added 13 and Gregorio chipped in 11.

Friday, the Cougars hosted the 12-1 Riverbank Bruins -who completed a perfect preseason and then lost their TVL opener to perennial power Modesto Christian - and took a hard fought 58-52 loss.

"We really felt like we were prepared, and we were," Louro said.

But some missed free throws and missed opportunities made the difference.

"We believe we're the better team, even though we lost," he added. "We had to foul at the end, in the fourth quarter they were 8-for-11 from the free throw line."

Despite the loss, Louro said it was a game like he anticipated, one that would come down to the final few points to decide the winner.

"Riverbank came out on fire, everything they threw was going in and we were down by 12 at half," Louro said of trailing 32-20. "We cut it to seven by the end of the third and even took a 2-point lead in the fourth."

Big buckets from Alec Von Alvensleben helped, knocking down a couple of key 3's. Gregorio had 15 points in the loss and Franceschetti added 11.

"Both the Patterson and Riverbank games, we played well enough to win," Louro said.

League action continues this week, with the boys on the road for a pair. They were slated to play at Ripon on Tuesday and head to Orestimba for a big game on Friday, Jan. 13.