Escalon’s basketball girls hosted their season-opening three-day tournament, while the boys were on the road and at home, all squads getting in some solid action. Following are recaps of this week’s contests.
The annual Escalon Lions Club Tournament – in its 40th year and now known as the Pete Arellano Memorial Tournament – saw the host Lady Cougars take second place honors at the varsity level.
They opened up the tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 30 against Big Valley Christian and played their way to a 42-26 victory to put themselves in the winner’s bracket of the tournament. Shelby McCune paced the team with 17 points in the tourney opener, while Jenelle Anderson added nine. That put them up against Waterford in Thursday’s contest and a huge 17-4 run in the first quarter set the tone for the Lady Cougars. They stayed a few points better than the Wildcats all the way, closing out the night with a 49-32 victory in hand. McCune and Anderson again led the way, this time with both in double figures, McCune with 15 and Anderson with 11.
For the finale, the Lady Cougar varsity squad had to face off with powerhouse Central Catholic and they lost by a 66-36 verdict to the Raiders. Though it was a loss, Escalon did place second in their annual tournament, a satisfying showing. Central ran out to a 23-4 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Anderson was high point player for Escalon, notching a dozen points. McCune added nine.
Head coach Joseph Dalpogetti returns for another season with the girls and said they do have experienced players and continue to work hard in a number of areas ahead of the Trans-Valley League campaign, looking to be in the thick of things this season.
The JV girls have a new head coach in Thomas O’Hare and they also opened up the three-day tournament with a win, topping Big Valley. They lost on Thursday; results of their Friday game were not available at press time.
Kicking off the season with the Foundation Game, varsity head coach Martin Louro said his Cougars fell to Central Catholic on Monday, Nov. 28.
“The best thing about that was getting to see their new gym,” the coach quipped of the trip to Central.
In other preseason play this week, the varsity Cougars hosted Bret Harte on Tuesday and lost the home opener, 61-52.
“We’re trying to put all the pieces together,” Louro said. “We looked a lot better than we did against Central, it was not bad but it was not great.”
The game saw a strong effort by the Cougars early on, pressuring the ball well in the first quarter and taking an early 17-7 lead. But they couldn’t sustain it.
“Bret Harte withstood our punch, then they counterpunched and got us on our heels,” said Louro. “And turnovers were an issue; we need to take better care of the ball.”
Estephan Salcedo had 11 points, Sahil Prasad and Jevan Salyer added 10 points each.
Saturday, the boys hosted Oakdale and got the win, 45-41.
“We came out and again had turnovers, we were throwing the ball to Oakdale, starting their fast break for them,” said the coach. “We were down by 14 points early, we didn’t pressure them at all in the first quarter and a half.”
After that, the host Cougars started to get their game together and cut the lead to six points at the half, 25-19, before slowly edging into the lead as the second half wore on. They ultimately took a 45-41 win off the court.
“It was nice to get that first win,” Louro said. “Sometimes that’s the hardest one to get.”
Tommy Pangan had 14 points, including two late three-pointers that helped seal the win. Salyer had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
For the JV boys, coach Nate Bartelink said they took an overtime win against Bret Harte on Tuesday, 42-37.
“It was nice to play in a tight game early,” Bartelink said, noting that will help the team as they continue through the season. Jacob Walden hit a clutch free throw to get the game to OT and then the JV Cougars outscored Bret Harte by a 7-2 margin in the overtime period.
“Our strength this year is defense, we are tough,” Bartelink said.
Mike Carroll and Lucca Dutra each had 10 points against Bret Harte while Frank Leal had eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Saturday, the team came away with a 46-35 win over visiting Oakdale.
“We were able to get everyone in, solid playing time for all,” said Bartelink.
Escalon built up a 23-15 lead at the half and withstood a late Oakdale rally to take the win. Carroll had an outstanding game with 14 points and seven rebounds. Leal had eight points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Chase Granis hit a pair of three-pointers.
The freshmen, with head coach David Anderson back at the helm, battled against the bigger visiting Oakdale squad on Saturday but ultimately fell short in a 47-32 final.
All teams continue a busy stretch of non-league and tournament action this week.