An up and down week for the varsity basketball boys saw them start out with hope, take three crushing losses and then bounce back with a win.
On the road at Argonaut to start the week, the game ultimately went in the loss column but head coach Martin Louro liked the fight he saw in his team.
“We were down 22-8 after the first quarter but then we rallied to win the second quarter, 21-11,” Louro said. “We were down just by four at the half, we won the third quarter 17-15 so we were only down by two going into the fourth quarter.”
Escalon took the lead with about four minutes left but couldn’t hold it, Argonaut taking the fourth quarter by an 18-15 scoring edge and winning the game by a handful of points.
“All in all it was a pretty positive game and I feel that we took a step forward that night,” Louro said.
Tommy Pangan had 26 points and Jevan Salyer added 10 in the loss.
The next night, Calaveras came into town and Louro said they are an all-around better team than Argonaut, able to put it to the Cougars.
“They are athletic kids, 6-6, 6-7, we got intimidated and let them do whatever they wanted,” admitted Louro.
It was an 89-52 final in favor of Calaveras, the Cougars not able to keep them contained.
“We did score in double digits in every quarter so that was positive,” said Louro. “I always tell the guys, nothing matters but how you play tonight, the guys hadn’t been playing as a unit.”
Working on that cohesiveness has been a theme, and with just two returning seniors – and only one that saw significant playing time last season – Louro said there is an adjustment period, as the juniors learn the ropes at the varsity level.
“I am concerned about being so young, but still optimistic for the year,” the coach noted. “It’s going to click.”
Estephan Salcedo had 22 points in the loss to Calaveras, Sahil Prasad added 11. Pangan chipped in with nine.
Late week action saw the team head to the Atwater-Buhach Colony Tournament.
They opened up with Atwater, taking a 79-41 loss.
“We were five guys not playing together, especially defensively,” explained Louro. “That made it easier for them to score, we just got blown out.”
Pangan with 12 points and Salcedo with 10 paced the team.
“We really struggled with their pressure and committed more than 30 turnovers,” Louro said.
Next, the Cougars took on Buhach Colony and despite a 23-point night from Pangan, fell by a 74-47 final. Salcedo had 12 points.
Heading into the final game of the tournament, the Cougars faced off with Livingston and found the recipe to get the win.
“We came out and we played together,” said Louro. “Livingston is a team that’s right there, they are competing, we just played better.”
Escalon had a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter but saw it dwindle to three in the closing minutes, as they haven’t quite figured out how to win. They held on, said the coach, but it was a nervous final few minutes, as Livingston nearly came all the way back. Escalon won, 75-72.
Pangan had 21 points, Salcedo 20 and Steven Grossi added 13.
“Blue Capps had six points and he must have had at least 12 rebounds, he had his best game of the year,” said Louro.
The Cougars were scheduled to play at Amador this week, then head out to the Carmel Invitational Thursday through Saturday.