Both games for Escalon’s varsity basketball boys this week were losses, but the team battled hard in each contest.
“We played two tough teams and we played them both tough,” said head coach Martin Louro.
Hosting Ripon Christian on Tuesday, Jan. 31, the final was 77-66 in favor of the Knights. RC rolled to a 19-10 first quarter lead and was up 39-28 at the half, the Cougars staying competitive.
After a 17-12 RC run in the third, it was 56-40 entering the final frame.
“In the fourth quarter, we cut it to three,” Louro said of the deficit. “We had an opportunity to tie it.”
Though they couldn’t quite pull even, Escalon outscored RC 26-21 over the last eight minutes of the contest.
Estephan Salcedo paced the team with 18 points, followed by Steven Grossi with 15 and Sahil Prasad with 14.
“Sahil this week played like he is capable of playing, he really matured this week and played very well,” said Louro.
Tommy Pangan, with 13 points, rounded out the Cougar players in double figures on the night.
“Friday night, we went against 7-0 Ripon. It’s always going to be fun when we play them … and it was,” Louro said.
The hard fought contest saw the Indians take an 89-70 win, but they definitely had to work for it.
Up 24-16 after one, it was a 46-36 lead at the half. The Indians worked to stretch the lead to 73-47 after three and were able to hold off the hard-charging Cougars in the fourth, though the host team had the scoring edge, 23-16, in the final eight minutes.
“Ripon is undefeated for a reason,” Louro said. “But we wouldn’t go away, they had to keep playing.”
Again, four Cougars were in double figures, led by Pangan with 18, Prasad with 17, Salcedo with 16 and Blue Capps with 11.
“They’re very talented and are just a better team,” Louro said of the Indians. “Still, I’m extremely proud of my guys and the way they’ve played.”
The varsity was scheduled to play at home Tuesday, Feb. 7 after The Times went to press, hosting Hughson. They will be at Hilmar on Thursday, Feb. 9 and then wrap up the campaign with Senior Night festivities and a game against Mountain house on Friday, Feb. 10 with tip off at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re not winning very much but they have not been letting that get them down,” the coach said of his squad. “We’re finishing strong, I’m really proud of them for that. I tell them if you leave it all out there on the court, no matter what happens, you can be proud of the effort.”
Facing off with both Ripon schools this week, one game went in the win column, one in the loss column for the JV boys.
They opened up with a Tuesday game hosting Ripon Christian.
“They beat us the first time around in overtime so we knew we could play with them,” head coach Nate Bartelink said. “We ended up winning 52-38, it was great to see us with a six-point lead going into the fourth; we were 13-for-16 in free throws in that final quarter, we converted on most of them and secured the victory.”
Up 11-7 after one and 22-19 at the half, the JV boys outscored RC in the third as well, leading 37-31 going into the final frame.
They went on a 16-7 run over the last eight minutes, putting the game out of reach.
“They worked hard, they were rewarded with a good victory,” Bartelink said. “Ripon Christian was 6-1 up to then, we played spoiler a little bit.”
Brad DaDalt had 16 points to lead the team, including 14 in the fourth quarter, when he was 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
“Mikey Carroll had 14 points, Lucca Dutra had 10 and Frank Leal added seven points,” added Bartelink.
Hosting Ripon on Friday, the coach said he knew it would be a tough go.
“That group of guys has been playing together since the fifth grade, they do travel ball, play year-round,” Bartelink said of the Indians. “We gave it a valiant effort.”
Escalon was also without three players – Zach Pickett, Lucca Dutra and Clayton Ferreira – for a variety of reasons, and that had an impact.
“Our game plan was to slow it down, we played all zone, tried to force them to shoot from the outside,” said the coach.
Down 14-5 after one, the host JV Cougars found themselves down 28-9 at halftime.
“We knew what we were up against,” Bartelink said.
The Indians outscored Escalon 14-5 in the third, 16-3 in the fourth to take a lopsided 58-17 win.
“There was just not much offense, that was a season low for us,” Bartelink said of the 17 points. “We just could not score.”
DaDalt had nine points, Carroll had five.
The JV boys close out the season this week. They were scheduled to be home to host Hughson on Tuesday, Feb. 7 after The Times went to press. They will be at Hilmar on Thursday, Feb. 9 and will be home to host Mountain House on Friday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m.
Tuesday at home, the freshmen easily outdistanced visiting Ripon Christian, winning by a 56-28 final.
“Guards Colton Panero and Kaidence Trejo played great offensively and defensively,” said coach Dave Anderson. “Jacob Walden also played well inside.”
On the home court again for Friday’s game, the frosh boys could not get much going against Ripon and fell to the Indians, 62-38.
“We played hard against a very good team who has only lost once this year,” said Anderson.
The freshmen will be on the road for a game at Hilmar on Thursday and then kick off a trio of Friday night contests, hosting Mountain House with a 4:30 p.m. start time.