Escalon’s varsity basketball boys were on the road for both games this past week, falling at Hughson and Ripon Christian.
“Tuesday we played bad and lost, Friday we played great and lost,” said head coach Martin Louro. “Tuesday, there were no excuses, Hughson isn’t a bad team but if we had played the way we are capable of … we just didn’t play at the same level, with the intensity we have been.”
The lack of intensity cost the varsity Cougars, as they took a 69-60 loss on the road in a game their coach feels they could have easily won. The host Huskies had plenty more opportunities at the free throw line than the Cougars as well, and made 26-of-44 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
Down by just two after one period, 14-12, Escalon was down by five, 33-28, at the half. They cut into the lead in the third quarter, trailing 46-44 heading into the final frame, but saw the host team ride a 23-16 scoring edge over the last eight minutes into the win column.
“Hughson did exactly what we told the kids they would, we just didn’t stop them,” Louro said.
Chapman Mello had an outstanding night with 28 points, with Sam Lattig putting in 19.
“Sam has really been coming on for us, he is playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Louro noted.
After the two players in double digits, however, there wasn’t much to cheer about offensively for the Cougars. Marvin Lawrence chipped in with six points, one player had three, two others had two points apiece to round out the scoring.
“We didn’t follow our game plan,” said a disappointed Louro. “This league is too balanced not to show up ready to play. We weren’t ready.”
Friday night, it was another road game for the team, facing off with Ripon Christian and giving the Knights a tough game. Louro said the Knights are the league favorite, and though his Cougars battled, the final was 56-53 in favor of the host RC team.
“They got out to an incredible start, they hit their first seven shots and went up 14-0, at one point they also led it 19-5 in the first quarter,” Louro said.
Down by 10, 22-12, after the first quarter, the Cougars regrouped and made a run of their own.
“We had a good second quarter,” agreed Louro, as they put in 20 points to Ripon Christian’s seven in that frame, the Cougars leading 32-29 at the half. A 12-7 advantage for RC in the third quarter put the host team up 41-39 going into the final frame.
“The fourth quarter was back and forth, we were down by four late and Marvin Lawrence hit a 3-pointer to get us close and then at the end, we had to foul but that came with under two seconds left,” Louro said of taking the tough loss.
Mello had 20 points to lead the Cougars, Lattig had 11, with Lawrence adding eight and Caleb Hansen putting in seven.
“That puts us at 0-3 in league and still trying to get elusive first league win,” Louro said.
This week will be big, as the Cougars try for that TVL victory and also have Homecoming.
They were scheduled to host the Hilmar Yellowjackets on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and welcome in Ripon for Friday night’s Homecoming, Jan. 30 with a 7:30 p.m. tip off time.
“If we show up and play the way we can, we can get that win,” Louro said.