Simply running out of time against Ripon Christian, the Escalon varsity basketball boys came up just a few points short on the road Tuesday, Jan. 10. They lost the Trans-Valley League game by a 62-57 final.
“We had a good game plan going in but Ripon Christian hit every basket in the first quarter,” noted head coach Martin Louro. “We were down 28-13 after one. We got it together and held them to eight points in the second quarter, we scored 17 so we were down just six at the half.”
Host RC outscored Escalon 10-6 in the third, while the Cougars held a 21-16 advantage in the final frame.
“We cut it to one point late,” Louro said, his team nearly coming all the way back. “I felt we just ran out of time, if we had a couple more minutes, we might have gotten the win.”
Tommy Pangan put in 22 points for Escalon, with 11 from Stephen Grossi and eight by Jevan Salyer.
“It was a real gut check game, character building,” Louro added of coming close to the first league win.
The varsity team then went in to Hughson for a Friday night game, Jan. 13.
It wasn’t bad luck, though, as the Cougars outlasted the Huskies, getting an overtime win.
“They were 0-2 but they’re a very solid team.” Louro said. “Plus it’s always tough to play at Hughson.”
Escalon came away with a 79-75 victory. The teams traded quarters, Hughson winning the first and third, Escalon taking the second and fourth, with the Cougars outscoring Hughson 15-11 in the extra frame.
“We’ve been in position to win a few games but we have found a way to lose them,” Louro said.
This one was different, the Cougars getting that elusive yet all important first TVL win of the season.
“They hit a three-pointer with five seconds left to send it to overtime,” the coach added, noting that the Cougars put that behind them and did what was necessary to win the overtime frame. “The kids gutted it out in overtime, they deserved it, they worked for it.”
Pangan poured in 25 points to lead the team, Salyer added 20 and Estephan Salcedo had 14 points in the win. Grossi chipped in with eight points and Sahil Prasad had seven, including five of them in the overtime period.
“The big difference was, in the past we wouldn’t get the 50-50 ball, this time we were the team taking the ball from them,” added Louro. “I’m real optimistic about how the kids are playing.”
Road action continued for Escalon’s junior varsity boys this week as well.
For the JV squad, both contests went to overtime and they gained a split, falling at Ripon Christian but winning at Hughson.
Tuesday’s game, Jan. 10, saw the JV Cougars lose a hard fought 52-47 decision to the Knights.
“They’re a good team, currently undefeated in league,” said head coach Nate Bartelink. “I thought we played pretty solid overall. They played a zone, which we have struggled with, but we tried to push the ball up the floor.”
Down by five points with under a minute to go in the fourth quarter, the JV team found a way to get it to the extra frame.
“Lucca Dutra drained a three and then Brad DaDalt hit a two-pointer to send it to overtime,” explained Bartelink. “The kids battled hard.”
Escalon got the first points of the overtime frame, going up 47-44, but then Ripon Christian went on an 8-0 run to close out the period and win the game.
“Brad DaDalt had a great game, he has 27 points, made a lot of big shots, he hit four three’s,” Bartelink said. “He did a great job creating plays in many different ways.”
Also contributing were Frank Leal with eight points and Dutra with seven.
The teams were tied at 11-11 after one, RC had a slight 24-22 lead at the half, the game going back and forth, a 10-10 draw in the third and a 12-10 advantage for Escalon in the final regulation frame, sending it to OT.
“We were on the road again Friday, we won it in overtime in Hughson, it was great to see the kids close out the next one after just having lost in overtime,” noted Bartelink. “I was real pleased with how we finished the game.”
A huge 11-0 run for Escalon in the first quarter came courtesy of pressuring the ball, forcing Hughson turnovers and late shots by the Huskies. But the home team turned the tables in the second quarter, outscoring Escalon 15-8 to make it just a 19-15 Cougar lead at the half. Escalon won the third quarter, 8-6, Hughson returned the favor with a 14-8 run in the fourth to send the game into overtime tied at 35-35.
“We couldn’t get the stops we needed, and when we went to overtime, they had the momentum,” Bartelink pointed out. “But we scored 14 points in four minutes, we were playing well, taking great shots, we outscored them 14-7 in the overtime period. We were able to stay in control the entire overtime period, it was a good solid win on the road.”
DaDalt had 13 points while Mikey Carroll had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Adding six each were Sam Fletcher, Frank Leal and Zach Pickett.
Consistent scoring for the youngest Cougars wasn’t enough to get them in the win column. The freshmen put up 40 points on Tuesday but fell to Ripon Christian by a 48-40 decision.
“We couldn’t get anything to fall in the second half,” said coach David Anderson.
Similarly, they put 39 points on the board in Friday’s road game at Hughson and lost that contest by a 48-39 final.
“Austin Terra played well offensively,” Anderson noted.
All Cougar squads were scheduled to be in action for their first Trans-Valley League home game on Tuesday night, Jan. 17 hosting Hilmar after The Times went to press, and go back on the road for a game at Mountain House on Friday, Jan. 20.