By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lady Cougars earn share of TVL basketball title
madi b
With a defender coming in to get a hand on the ball, Escalon’s Madi Babasa works to get the shot off during action recently on the home court. The varsity girls were on the road for two games this past week, winning both, claiming a share of the league title. Marg Jackson/The Times

They needed two wins – on the road – to claim a piece of the Trans-Valley League title. And that’s just what they did.

Escalon’s varsity basketball girls defeated Hughson on Tuesday, Feb. 6 and then spoiled Hilmar’s Homecoming on Friday, Feb. 9 by taking the win and forging a three-way tie atop the league standings with Hughson and Riverbank.

Head coach Joseph Dalpogetti said Tuesday’s win at Hughson was huge, but the girls still needed a win at Hilmar in the final regular season game to get the tie.

“We got off to a slow start and got down 9-2,” Dalpogetti said of Tuesday’s game at Hughson, though the game eventually went in the win column by a 43-36 final. “We finished the quarter on a 6-2 run and were down 11-8 after the first.”

In the second quarter, Escalon held Hughson to just three points but only scored six themselves, so the teams were tied 14-14 at the half.

“In the third we outscored them 13-12 and took a one-point lead into the fourth,” the coach said. “We pushed it to eight about halfway through the quarter.”

But then a missed layup and a foul going the other way, a banked three by Hughson and some more free throws, it was back to a three-point game late in the fourth.

“Out of a timeout we got Macie Vickers the ball on the block and she was fouled, splitting her free throws to put us up by four,” Dalpogetti explained. “We then got a stop and Madi Babasa hit a corner three to put us up by seven with about 50 seconds to go.”

Freshman Ari Velasco did a good job taking about 20 seconds off the clock, dribbling through all five Hughson defenders. The teams then traded some late free throws but Escalon held off the host team.

Sammy Lang had 13 points in the win, Velasco had 11 and Babasa added 10, seven of them in the fourth quarter.

That gave the girls the opportunity to secure a share of the TVL crown for the second time in three seasons. They were outright champs in 2022 and took third place last season.

They wrapped it up with a big 61-23 win over Hilmar, playing in between the Escalon JV and varsity boys games against the Yellowjackets.

“We got off to a 6-0 start but gave them a few boards and the game was 6-4 after a few minutes,” Dalpogetti said. “We started to pull away from that point on. We led 32-14 at the half.”

High scorer for the team was Babasa with 17, while Lang added 16.

Escalon, at 25-2 overall and 10-2 in league, got the highest seed out of the TVL for the playoffs; they earned a three seed for the Division 4 playoffs, with a home game in the opening round, while Riverbank was rated number four, and Hughson got the number five seed.