On the road for their Trans-Valley League finale, Escalon’s varsity basketball boys got past Ripon, 62-59, in action Tuesday night, Feb. 17.
Junior Sam Lattig went off for 30 points on the night, while team captain and senior Chapman Mello had 16.
Down by a point after one period of play, 13-12, the Cougars outscored Ripon 15-10 in the second to take a 27-23 lead at the half. Ripon had the edge, 16-13, in the third and the visiting Escalon team went into the fourth period with a lead, 40-39.
Both teams had strong fourth quarters, with Ripon catching fire first.
“They went on a run and went up by eight points with about three minutes to go,” Escalon head coach Martin Louro said. “We managed to rally.”
Key to the rally was some clutch free throw shooting from Lattig, who also knocked down a trey to get the Cougars close, then the game-tying 3-pointer from Mello after the varsity Cougars got a defensive stop.
“Ripon missed some free throws and they shot very poorly from the line, that was probably the difference in the game,” said Louro. “We got a stop and a big rebound at the end when we were up by one. That was what we hadn’t been doing all season.
“We got a stop, forced them to foul.”
Mello hit the final couple of free throws to seal the victory.
“Obviously when there is only one game left, there is not a better way the season could have ended,” Louro said of getting the victory. “It was good for the seniors to go out on a high note, nice to beat Ripon on their court.”
Escalon getting the win also dropped Ripon down a couple of notches in the playoff seeding, so Louro said it was a satisfying end to the season. The Cougars also returned the favor of getting a win in the other’s house, as Ripon had earlier defeated the Cougars in Escalon this season.
“It’s big because it’s something to build on,” Louro said. “Sam, a junior, had a big game to finish and other juniors contributed a lot more toward the end of the season.”
Escalon finished at 2-8, Hilmar was 3-7, Hughson 4-4, Ripon and Riverbank 6-4 and Ripon Christian won league at 8-2. Escalon got its wins against Ripon and Hilmar.
“It took us all season to learn what it takes to win,” Louro said. “The league was balanced and it was a dogfight every night out.”
Escalon finished the season with an 11-16 overall record.
Louro reported that Mello was named as a first team All-TVL player, with Lattig and Kevin Gregorio each receiving an Honorable Mention.