Opening up their week on the road, Escalon’s varsity basketball boys lost a hard-fought contest against Ripon Christian, falling by a 63-54 decision.
“We battled and battled, had a three-point lead at the half,” said head coach Martin Louro. “The first half was the most consistent 16 minutes of the season.”
Escalon trailed 19-16 after the first quarter but outscored Ripon Christian 19-13 in the second quarter to take a 35-32 lead at the half.
But as has been the case this season, one bad quarter spelled trouble for the team.
“The third quarter was a killer for us,” agreed Louro. “We just didn’t sustain what we had done in the first half.”
Ripon Christian took control in that quarter, outscoring Escalon 25-9, to lead it 57-44 heading into the final frame. Escalon did outscore the host team 10-6 in the fourth quarter but couldn’t quite make up the deficit from the third period.
“We had our chances,” Louro said.
Kameron DeWeerd paced the team with a 15-point night; Max Nicholas added 10 and Brad DaDalt scored eight points.
Coming back home for a Friday night game against Ripon, the Cougars started out strong but again found themselves on the wrong end of the final score, losing 71-35. The game was also marred by a last second scuffle on the court between some opposing players.
As good as the Cougars had played in the first half on Tuesday night against RC, Louro said they even improved on that to start their Friday home game.
“The first 12 minutes was probably the best basketball we have played,” the coach noted. “We were up 20-10 early in the second quarter, then we only scored 15 points the rest of the way.”
With host Escalon up 16-10 after one, Ripon started to hit some three’s late in the second quarter and took a 32-25 lead at the half. At that point, the game was still in reach but the third quarter saw Ripon outscore Escalon 18-7, taking a commanding 50-32 edge into the fourth.
From there, frustration started to set in and the Cougars managed just three points over the final eight minutes while Ripon kept its starters in for most of the final frame, continuing to shoot from beyond the arc and putting in 21 points in the quarter.
“I subbed out midway through the fourth, emptied the bench,” Louro said, adding that the Indians didn’t do likewise until much later in the final quarter.
Nic Lattig had 12 points to lead Escalon, DeWeerd put in seven.
The Cougars wrap up the season with three games this week. They were scheduled to be at Hughson on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and will have Senior Night on Thursday, Feb. 8 when they host Hilmar. On Friday, the team travels to Mountain House for the season finale.
Seniors to be recognized on Thursday prior to the 7:30 p.m. tip off include Steven Grossi, Nic Lattig, Elliott Mello, Max Nicholas, Sahil Prasad and Estephan Salcedo.