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Cougar Hoops Basketball Season Stretching Across Summer Months For Cougars
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A stellar leap by Escalons Owen Pangilinan allows him to rise above Ripon opposition during varsity summer league basketball action on July 8. IKE DODSON/THE TIMES

Despite battling against the typical summer routine of family vacations, fair commitments, summer jobs and the occasional beach or amusement park trip, a core group of basketball players has put in plenty of time and effort on the hardwood in Escalon.

The summer hoops program featured games on both Monday and Wednesday nights over the course of several weeks, with both varsity and JV squads getting in some action. Escalon High School varsity basketball coach Martin Louro said the summer season is important for his Cougars, both in terms of getting better as individuals and as a team. Not only did they play in a summer league put together by Louro, but the squad also traveled to some tournaments and camps, he, ping build a bond that the coach hopes to see translate into more cohesiveness on the court.

He said the summer schedule gave him plenty of reason to be optimistic.

“We have four juniors coming back that make a nice core of guys, Ben Hood, Owen Pangilinan, Thomas Diniz and Stephen Silveira,” Louro explained. “They have been really committed this summer, showed up to almost everything.”

Louro said there “no question” his team lost some star power with the graduation of some key seniors, but he also is looking to those juniors, who will be returning to the court as seniors this year, to take over the reins.

“We lost Alec VonAlvensleben, 20 points a night, we lost Brian Gregorio, 12 points, seven rebounds a night, they are hard to replace,” Louro admitted. “The guys we have may not be quite as talented physically but they work their butts off and we are playing better defense, we are making smarter decisions.”

Players moving up from the JV level include guards Chapman Mello and Marvin Lawrence, players that don’t go much past 5-7 but will play to the final buzzer.

“They are doing everything I’ve asked them to do and these kids can play,” Louro said.

Also expected to see some quality minutes for the varsity are incoming juniors Jacob Gutierrez and Vinnie Bacay.

“I’m very optimistic about the upcoming season,” Louro said.

The summer campaign featured the Monday and Wednesday night league that saw 19 different schools participating, while the Cougars kicked off the schedule with a 28-school tournament in early June.

“We went 3-2, we lost to a San Jose team in overtime and we lost to a very tough Division I Merced team by six points,” said Louro.

Over the course of the summer, Louro said there were a lot of games played and though he didn’t keep track of the squad’s record closely, he does know there were more wins than losses for the team. There will also be more games to come, in a fall league, before the team begins its official winter season in the 2013-14 school year.

“From the end of our season in February (2013) to the start of the new season we will have played about 60 games,” he said. “Between some in the spring, the summer schedule and then a few more in the fall, that’s a lot of basketball.”