Making a perfect 3-0 run through the Linden Tournament, Escalon’s varsity basketball girls came home with championship honors over the weekend.
They defeated Bret Harte, Liberty Ranch and host school Linden to earn the tournament title.
Thursday, it was a 45-31 win over Bret Harte in the opener.
“It was 22-22 at half, then we outscored them 20-2 in the third quarter,” said head coach Joseph Dalpogetti.
Early on, the Lady Cougars had trouble dealing with the defense, since it was the first time they had seen zone this season, added the coach.
“We cleaned up a couple of things at halftime,” Dalpogetti explained. “We focused on where we wanted to pass the ball.”
The team also benefited from the return of Sarah Leal, who was called for a pair of fouls in the opening minute of the contest and had to sit much of the first half.
Leal, Jenelle Anderson and Shelby McCune all had 11 points in the win.
Friday, the girls took on Liberty Ranch and came away with a 48-36 victory.
They had the lead the entire way, outscoring Liberty Ranch 9-4 in the first and 11-7 in the second for a 20-11 halftime lead. Escalon put the game away with a 19-point third quarter, said Dalpogetti.
Leal poured in 20 points on the night, with 10 from McCune and nine from Anderson.
In the championship game on Saturday, the varsity girls took on Linden, which had beaten Galt and Franklin of Stockton on the other side of the bracket.
“At one point, we were down 11-4,” Dalpogetti said.
The varsity squad, however, did not panic but just kept with their game plan and outscored the host team 32-2 over the second and third quarters, with a 17-2 run in the second, 15-0 in the third on the way to the 42-23 victory.
“They looked to drive to the basket so we drove hard on the shooter,” explained Dalpogetti.
That forced Linden to take shots they didn’t want, and kudos went to Anderson and Justine Lawrence for providing the tough defense.
“Justine also had two 3’s early in the second quarter,” the coach said of helping get her team back in the game.
Haley Boyd had 11 points, including three 3-point baskets, McCune had 10 points.
Sarah Leal was named the Tournament MVP, McCune and Boyd were named to the All-Tournament Team.
“We’ve been really focused on the chemistry,” Dalpogetti said of what is making the difference this season so far for the team. “We’re caring about each other, not caring about who gets the credit, we are focusing on our shot selection.”
All of it has added up to a successful preseason to date, with a tournament championship and a tournament runner-up showing already.
This week, the varsity girls were on the road at Delhi last night, Tuesday, after the Times went to press and will be at Tokay on Friday before coming home for a pair next week, hosting Johansen on Dec. 21 and Galt on Dec. 22.