The start of Trans-Valley League play for Escalon’s basketball boys saw the varsity and JV squads win on the road, the freshmen take a tough loss.
Games were played on Friday, Jan. 8 at Riverbank High School. The varsity Cougars needed overtime to take down the host Bruins, the JV boys held off a comeback attempt in the fourth quarter and the freshmen had a lead but couldn’t hold it. Friday’s competition came following the end of non-league action at home against Summerville on Tuesday. Following is a recap of the week’s action.
Head coach Martin Louro said Friday’s OT win was just what his team needed, providing a shot of confidence as they kicked off the TVL campaign.
“It was a great game, it was just tough that somebody had to lose,” Louro noted. “I think my guys earned it, I know they deserved it.”
The teams traded points, 14-14 in the first and 9-9 in the second, to end the first half tied at 23-all. Escalon had a 16-13 edge in the third but Riverbank turned the tables with an 11-8 advantage in the fourth, the teams knotted at 47-47 at the end of regulation. The Cougars were just two points better, 14-12, in the overtime period, taking a 61-59 win.
“We played well,” added Louro. “Defensively, we went back to basics, be in the right spots, focus on rotation.”
Louro said the team had some goals for the contest and met enough of them to earn the win. They came out ahead on the offensive boards, still had a few too many turnovers but held on for the win.
A couple of keys in overtime, said Louro, was a big 3-pointer by Tommy Pangan – answering one from Riverbank – that relaxed the team and gave them belief in their ability to win and a crucial steal by Trent Avilla to deny a Riverbank possession and possible game-tying shot.
“They went out and won it in overtime,” Louro said of his team. “We’re focusing this year on the little things, getting better, doing things right and I believe if you do that, the wins will come.”
Sam Lattig poured in 25 points on the night, with 15 from Pangan. He had three treys, including two in the pivotal OT period. Caleb Hansen and Garrett Nebe added seven points apiece.
Earlier in the week, the Cougars hosted Summerville in the preseason finale. The Tuesday, Jan. 5 game went on the books as a 63-52 loss for Escalon. They were trailing 37-29 at the half and couldn’t make up the early deficit against the visiting Bears. Pangan had 20 points to lead the team, Nebe had 14 and Lattig added nine. The Cougars ended a competitive preseason with a 6-9 mark and are 1-0 in league. They were scheduled to travel to Ripon on Tuesday, Jan. 12 after The Times went to press and host Ripon Christian for Homecoming on Friday night, Jan. 15. They then host Hughson on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Taking a 22-point loss at home to Summerville on Tuesday, the JV boys put that game behind them and battled to a 46-35 win on the road Friday, topping Riverbank in the TVL opener.
Hosting the Bears in the preseason finale, the JV Cougars hung tough, down 16-13 after one and trailing 30-20 at the half. Summerville put distance between them with a 28-15 scoring advantage in the third quarter to take a commanding 58-35 lead into the final frame. Despite the loss, Escalon got 22 points and eight rebounds from Estephan Salcedo. Elliott Mello added eight points and seven rebounds, Tim Megenney chipped in with six points.
Friday, Jan. 8 they went on the road to Riverbank and took down the Bruins, though they had to withstand a late surge by the host team.
Escalon raced to a 16-6 lead after one and 29-15 at the half. Up 41-20 after three, the JV boys saw Riverbank battle back with a 15-5 run in the fourth but they were able to hold off the JV Bruins for the win. Salcedo had his second monster game of the week, pouring in 18 points while pulling down 10 boards. Max Nicholas had 13 points, including going 3-for-3 on shots from three-point range. Mello had nine points, Lattig had six points and 16 rebounds, Steven Grossi added eight rebounds.
After traveling to Ripon for a Jan. 12 game after The Times went to press, the JV boys are home for a pair, hosting Ripon Christian at 6 p.m. Friday and Hughson in a Tuesday night game, Jan. 19.
The youngest of the Cougar hoopsters, the freshmen, earned a win at home against Summerville to close out preseason action on Jan. 5. Final score was not available. They went on the road later in the week, opening up TVL play at Riverbank. After leading for most of the game, the frosh Cougar boys went cold in the final frame and they saw Riverbank fight back to grab a 48-41 victory. The freshmen will kick off Friday night’s trio of Homecoming contests at 4:30 p.m. hosting the Ripon Christian Knights. The frosh boys were also scheduled to play at Ripon on Tuesday, Jan. 12 after The Times went to press.