It definitely wasn’t the start they wanted to have.
Escalon’s varsity basketball boys had to start their season on the road, playing a pair of Trans-Valley League contests this past week and coming up short in both games.
“We went 0-2 losing on the road to Riverbank and Ripon. The bright point is I saw a great deal of growth for the first time this season,” said head coach Martin Louro. “The boys played hard, they competed, and for the most part they played together.”
At Riverbank on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Cougars fell behind 17-8 in the first quarter and could never make up the early deficit. The final score was 65-47 in Riverbank’s favor, with the Cougars trailing 31-23 at the half and 50-37 after three.
“Riverbank had an extremely good shooting night and every time we made a run they answered with their own,” noted Louro.
Tommy Pangan led all scorers with 23 points. Estephan Salcedo added nine, while Steven Grossi chipped in eight.
Friday night, in a game originally scheduled in Escalon but moved due to the two-day Engel Wrestling Tournament at EHS on Friday and Saturday, the Cougars fell to Ripon by a 75-38 final.
“This game was much closer than the score as midway through the third period we were down eight and within striking distance,” Louro said. “However we went cold and simply couldn’t buy a basket from that point forward.”
The Indians doubled up the Cougars in the first quarter, 16-8 and trailed 31-20 at the half. After cutting the deficit in the third, the Cougars couldn’t keep pace and Ripon hit a ton of shots in the final frame, pouring in 26 points over the last eight minutes.
It went in the books as a loss, but Louro nonetheless was pleased with the overall effort. Tommy Pangan and Estephan Salcedo paced the Cougars with 11 points apiece, Sahil Prasad had six.
“The boys played hard for the second straight game,” Louro added. “If we continue to improve we have a chance to finish the season strong, which at this point is our goal.”
The boys are road warriors again this week, playing at Hughson on Friday, Jan. 13. They were scheduled to be at Ripon Christian on Tuesday night, Jan. 10 after The Times went to press.
They will be at home for a game on Tuesday, Jan. 17 hosting Hilmar at 7:30 p.m.