With all football players finally joining the basketball team, Escalon’s varsity Cougars are looking to get some solid full team practices in and find a rhythm as they move through the preseason campaign.
They fell in the Foundation Game against Central Catholic, a game that gets teams on the floor and raises funds for the section but does not count in any kind of rankings.
That game was Monday, Nov. 27 and the Cougars moved on from that to travel to Bret Harte on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
“A lot of our guys went so deep into the football season, we had one day of practice all together,” noted head coach Martin Louro. “We were rusty, we lost 65-55 but for the most part, it was a 2- to 5-point game, there were just a couple of things that didn’t go our way.”
Louro also said the Cougars took a technical late in the game that saw Bret Harte go to the line and use the opportunity to tie the game by converting both free throws.
“Then we got a second technical later in the game,” Louro said. “There’s no excuses; it’s what they see on TV but if they get a technical, they’re coming out and sitting for a long time.”
The team has to work on playing under control, the coach added, and he feels the more practices they get, the more they play in game situations, the better their reactions will be.
Steven Grossi had 15 points to lead the team against Bret Harte, with Sahil Prasad and Estephan Salcedo each adding 10. Cameron DeWeerd put in nine points.
“Saturday we went to Oakdale,” Louro said. “Oakdale had beaten Bret Harte by 10, Bret Harte beat us by 10 and we beat Oakdale by 24.”
Just to show that the game has to be played and the outcome can’t be predicted, Louro said the varsity Cougars took a 65-41 win off the court against the Mustangs.
“After Bret Harte, we had three days of practice,” Louro pointed out. “The more days of practice, the better we’ll be.”
The pace of Saturday’s contest was one again fast and the coach said there are times when the team needs to slow down and “be a little more intentional” with what they are trying to do.
“Oakdale was waiting for some of their football players, still,” Louro added. “Their best player had 23 points.”
Escalon came in to the game and had trouble early on, committing four straight turnovers.
“We played really well after we got started,” Louro said of leaving the turnovers in the rear view mirror and focusing on the task at hand. “Estephan Salcedo had 21 points, Sahil Prasad had 16, then we had a bunch of people with six points, four points, two points.”
The end result was a solid win, leaving the Cougars with a preseason mark of 1-1.
“Our league is really tough,” added Louro. “That’s why we do a tough preseason.”
The varsity squad was prepared for a big test on Dec. 5, after The Times went to press, as they were headed to Calaveras for non-league play.
“They’ll be a top four seed in the playoffs,” Louro said, noting that they have a couple of players near the 6-6 mark.
Then it will be off to the round robin tournament at Atwater-Buhach Colony for games Thursday through Saturday.