For the third time in three tournaments this preseason, Escalon’s varsity basketball boys brought home a consolation championship. This time, it came in the Columbia College tournament in Sonora. The squad bounced back from an opening round loss to Sonora to win the next two games, going 2-1 in the tournament just before New Year’s.
“We lost to Sonora in the opener, we dug too big a hole,” said head coach Martin Louro of the 77-59 loss on Dec. 26. “We played real flat in the first half, had a lot more effort in the second half.”
But down by 20 midway through, the mountain was a little too big to climb. Marvin Lawrence had 27 points on the night, pouring in 24 over the third and fourth quarters. Chapman Mello added 14 points. The loss put Escalon into the loser’s bracket but they made the best of that situation. They took on Golden Valley of Merced on Dec. 27 and earned a 68-59 win with three Cougars in double figures. Mello paced the team with 25 points, Lawrence put in 13 points and Kevin Gregorio had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“Kevin had a big night on the glass,” Louro said.
Monday, Dec. 29, the Cougars found themselves in the consolation championship against Delhi and got the win, 66-45.
“Three tournaments, three consolation championships, we have been the best of the loser’s bracket,” Louro noted.
In the finale, Mello had 22 points and Ryan Schuurman came off the bench to put in 10 points for the Cougars.
“We had 11 players get in the book, it was a pretty good night,” Louro said of spreading the scoring around and getting plenty of team members involved in the win.
Sam Lattig and Marvin Lawrence had seven points apiece, Gregorio pulled down a dozen rebounds.
The varsity boys are now 8-6 for the preseason and were scheduled to play at Summerville on Tuesday, after The Times went to press. They will travel to Lodi on Friday, Jan. 9. The JV and freshman teams will also be on the road for both those games as well.
Louro said the team is showing signs of coming together and he hopes to see that continue, as there will be a battle for playoff contention this season.
“Ripon Christian is probably the top team but other than that, the league is wide open,” Louro said. “Ripon, Riverbank, us, all will be in there and we will need to win close games, they only take three teams from our league this year for the playoffs.”
Trans-Valley League play for the varsity squad will begin on Friday, Jan. 16 with a game against Riverbank.