The varsity Escalon Cougars took two losses on the basketball court this past week, while the JV boys split their contests.
Both will be involved in tournament play this week prior to the New Year’s holiday, with Trans-Valley League action looming after the first of the year.
A 65-50 loss to Summerville started the week for the varsity Cougars on Tuesday, Dec. 19.
“We are just giving up too many points, really,” said head coach Martin Louro. “We need to find a way to play better defense.”
Trailing by just one point, 13-12, after one quarter, the Cougars were down 31-25 at the half, with the game still well within reach. But Summerville turned it up a notch to outscore the Cougars 18-10 in the third, pulling way.
Estephan Salcedo had 21 points for Escalon in the loss, continuing to be the leading scorer for the team. Sahil Prasad had 10 points, Steven Grossi had nine and Bard DaDalt put in seven, so the Cougars did get a fair amount of scoring; they just gave up more than they got.
“The next day we went in with a plan to just put up more shots,” Louro said of hosting Argonaut on Wednesday, Dec. 20. “We wanted to pick up the tempo and it worked, we scored 67 points.”
Problem is, Louro added, this time the team gave up 87 points, taking the 20-point loss to the visiting Argonaut team.
“We were up 24-23 after one quarter,” Louro pointed out.
Argonaut, though, outscored the Cougars 25-14 in the second to put them in a 48-34 hole at the half, making it tough for the squad to rebound.
“We moved the ball better,” Louro said of seeing some improvement in the ‘shoot often’ mentality that the Cougars used for the game. “I think we may run with this offense for a while.”
Salcedo had a team high 21 points against Argonaut, Cameron DeWeerd poured in 14 and Prasad was also in double figure for the Cougars with 11 points on the night.
Escalon heads to the Columbia Tournament this week, with games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“I’m hoping these guys figure it out and we come out ready for league,” Louro said.
On the home court Tuesday, the JV basketball boys battled to a 53-50 victory over Summerville. The teams played tight all the way through, Summerville leading 25-22 at the half and then adding a bit to the lead in the third quarter. That put the JV Cougars at a disadvantage entering the final frame but they responded well, outscoring Summerville over the last eight minutes to nail down the win.
“They maintained a lead throughout the game and they were up by five points with about 35 seconds to go,” explained coach Nate Bartelink. “Freshman Brenden Holmes hit a 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds to go to cut it down to a two-point deficit.”
Escalon was able to get the ball back and set up a play, Kaidence Trejo passing to Dylan Ruiz for the game-tying layup. Then Holmes was fouled and hit two clutch free throws to put the Cougars in the lead.
“We scored seven points in the last 20 seconds of the game,” Bartelink said, adding that it was a great way to show his team to keep pushing until the final buzzer.
“The kids fought through adversity and it was great to see them fight through that and get the win,” Bartelink said.
Holmes had 15 points to lead the squad, Ruiz added 13 and Kaden Christensen had a solid night with nine points.
Wednesday, hosting Argonaut, the JV boys were in the old gym and held their opponent to just 40 points. However, they only scored 34 points themselves and took the non-league loss.
“Our defense was great, we just couldn’t find a way to score,” said Bartelink. “Usually, when you hold a team to 40 points, you get the win.”
Argonaut had a fast start, outscoring Escalon 12-3 in the first quarter. The Cougars, though, answered back with a 15-8 run of their own in the second to trail by just two, 20-18 at the half. Argonaut stayed a few points ahead the rest of the way, taking the win.
Holmes had 12 points and nine rebounds in the loss, Ruiz added nine points.
The JV and freshman Cougars will be hosting the Cougar Holiday Classic Tournament this week, with games Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 27 through 29.
The freshmen, who got a win over Summerville by 20-plus points in their only game of the week on Tuesday, open up the tournament with a 5 p.m. game Wednesday, Dec. 27.
The JV team opens up on Wednesday with a 6:30 pm. contest against Linden.