Winning on the road at Amador to start the week, Escalon’s varsity basketball boys then won one and lost two at the Carmel Invitational.
“We are still struggling a little bit,” admitted head coach Martin Louro. “Our Achilles heel is handling pressure; we turn the ball over way too much.”
Turnovers feed the opposition while limiting Escalon’s shot attempts, a double-edged sword that has been a common theme weaved throughout their losses this season.
“We beat Amador, 71-51, they didn’t pressure us at all,” Louro noted.
Tommy Pangan had 26 points in the win, Estephan Salcedo added 13.
“Everybody else chipped in a little, they all got in the mix,” said Louro.
Then it was off to the three-day Carmel Invitational, Thursday through Saturday.
“We opened up with Seaside and that was a very winnable game,” said the coach. “It was 12-10 us after one quarter but then we broke down in the second and third quarters, they put on the pressure.”
Seaside outdistanced the Cougars with 23 points in the second and 19 in the third in the 68-51 final.
Escalon scored 12 points in the first, 11 in the second, 11 in the third and 17 in the fourth.
“Scoring’s not really our problem, we just need to take more shots,” Louro said.
Pangan again paced the team, this time with 21 points including five 3-pointers.
The opening game loss put Escalon into the loser’s bracket side of the tournament and on Friday they faced off with Watsonville.
“We won it in double overtime,” said Louro of the 66-60 final in the Cougars’ favor.
Salcedo, with 19 points, and Pangan, with 17, paced the team.
“We got a spark off the bench from Eric Campbell, he got some big rebounds, a couple of important offensive putbacks, and Blue Capps had six points,” the coach said.
Down 25-15 at the half, the Cougars climbed back into the game and got it tied up before the final buzzer, finally getting the win.
In the consolation championship game on Saturday, the Escalon squad was put away by Buhach Colony, outscored 76-39.
“They held us to 39 because we didn’t get many shot attempts,” Louro explained. “We’re still turning it over 30-plus times a game.”
Pangan had 17 of the team’s 39 points in the contest.
“We weren’t all that happy with our play but this is always a good tournament for the team, a fun time,” Louro said of spending some time on the coast. “We’re just not playing as a unit yet, they’ve shown some flashes of it, but it’s not consistent.”
Looking for that consistency will be a major goal, as the team will get in some practices this week, ahead of traveling to the Columbia Tournament between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Trans-Valley League action starts in January.