The final week of Trans-Valley League play for Escalon’s varsity basketball boys was a perfect microcosm of their season.
“We played really well, we played really hard, but we came up short in all three games,” said head coach Martin Louro.
Two of the three contests were at home, but none went in the win column for the varsity Cougars.
Tuesday, they hosted Hughson and lost an 81-71 decision in the Feb. 7 contest.
“Seventy-one really should be enough points to win a game,” said Louro. “We’ve just had a hard time stopping other teams this year.”
Down 45-36 at the half, the Cougars chipped away at the lead in the third but couldn’t quite catch the Huskies.
Estephan Salcedo led all scorers with 31 points, Sahil Prasad had 17 and Tommy Pangan and Blue Capps put in eight points apiece.
Thursday at Hilmar, it was a case where the Cougars took a late lead but couldn’t hang on, outscored by the host team 16-8 over the final eight minutes and falling 61-48.
“Again, Estephan led all scorers, he had 23 points, Jevan Salyer had 10, Tommy had a tough night, he had just five points,” Louro said.
Escalon was down 19-11 after one, 31-27 at the half and did get the lead on the road before relinquishing it to the host squad.
On Friday, it was the season finale hosting Mountain House, observed as Senior Night. Recognition prior to tip off came for seniors Eric Campbell, Blue Capps, Justin Miranda, Tommy Pangan and Jevan Salyer, with those five taking the court to start the game.
A tightly contested game saw Mountain House lead it 22-14 after one but a 25-17 run by Escalon in the second knotted the game at 39-39 at halftime. Pangan hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie it up at the half. The Mustangs answered with a 19-12 scoring edge in the third. Escalon again battled back but ultimately fell short, 82-74.
“We had the lead in the fourth, then they went up by two with a minute left,” Louro said. “There were a few fouls, they got some free throws at the end.”
Pangan closed out his high school career with a big night, scoring 27 points. Salcedo had 17, Salyer put in 13 in his senior finale.
“We had three guys in double figures,” Louro noted. “Unfortunately, Mountain House had four.”
The varsity squad went just 2-10 in Trans-Valley League play and 6-20 overall.
“It doesn’t seem like a successful year but there was an extreme amount of growth from the beginning of the season to the end,” said Louro. “Winning is a byproduct of doing things right, we just didn’t do quite enough.”
The team did play much better as a cohesive squad by season’s end, though, and Louro said they were competitive each time out on the court. They also look to have seven returning players next season, a good base for building on this year’s late season surge.
At halftime of the Friday night game, EHS senior cheerleaders were recognized for their efforts on behalf of the basketball program as well. Honored were Kiana Ancheta, Alyssa Arana, Anai Avila, Briana Brasil, Leanna Flores, Faith Foster, Moriah May, Brenda Melendez, Daisy Pantoja, Camryn Reed, Edgar Samano, Eva Shipley, Morgan Thompson, Destiny Whitesel and Taylor Cockrell. Cheer coaches are Jeannie Moeller and Lexi Bavaro.