Splitting their games for the week, Escalon’s varsity basketball boys won on the road but took a tough loss at home.
They started out with a solid effort at Ripon on Tuesday, taking down the Indians in the Jan. 12 contest.
“It was a big, emotional win,” said head coach Martin Louro. “It’s always a rivalry game with Ripon, it doesn’t matter if we’re good, if Ripon’s good; the kids get up for this game.”
Escalon took control early, making a statement with a 24-10 run in the opening quarter.
“We came out and really punched them in the mouth, the kids executed the game plan,” Louro noted.
Ripon regrouped and outscored the visiting Cougars 19-18 in the second but that still left Escalon with a 41-29 lead at the break. The teams traded points, 15-15, in the third and Ripon mounted a little run over the final eight minutes, 17-11 on the scoreboard, but the fast start carried the Cougars to the win.
“They like to attack the rim real hard,” Louro explained of the Indians. “Our goal was to not let their two main guards beat us and we held two of the best guards in the league to a total of 25 points, that’s what we wanted to do.”
The 68-61 win saw Tommy Pangan hit six three-pointers and go off for a total of 23 points to lead Escalon. Sam Lattig added 18, Caleb Hansen had 10 and Garrett Nebe contributed eight.
“We just came out on fire,” said Louro. “It did get hairy in the second half, they cut it to two points in the fourth quarter; I had to take a timeout and we talked about playing to win, not playing not to lose.”
After that, the varsity squad settled down and played to win, going on a run to put a little distance between them and eventually nailing down the seven point victory.
Friday, the boys headed into their Winter Homecoming on a high note, winning their first two Trans-Valley League contests, both on the road.
“We knew it would be tough with Ripon Christian,” the coach admitted. “The kids played extremely hard, they duplicated their effort (from Tuesday) but the shots just didn’t go.”
Final score was a 55-44 loss for the home team, dropping to 2-1 while RC improved to 3-0.
“They did a good job of scouting us,” Louro added, noting that some avenues of attack were taken away. The boys failing to convert on shots they normally hit also played a factor.
“We missed a lot of open shots,” agreed Louro. “It was a real solid, good game, low-scoring.”
Visiting RC dictated the tempo for much of the game, which Louro said caused some trouble for his troops.
“In the fourth quarter we started to cause some havoc, we forced them to turn it over,” he said.
Ripon Christian was up 11-9 after one, 23-19 at the half. They then went on a 12-6 run in the third to get some breathing room and hold off the Cougars for the win.
“I can’t fault the kids for their effort, I will take that every night,” added Louro.
Lattig paced the team with 12 points, Pangan had 11. Trent Avilla added seven points and Hansen had six.
The boys were slated to host Hughson on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and will be at Hilmar on Friday, Jan. 22.