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Varsity Basketball Girls Fall In Pair Of League Contests
JV Girls Split
Junior varsity player Maddy Johnson, 33, battles for the rebound in Thursday night home action against Mountain House as teammate Leila Phillips, 10, looks on. The JV girls took the win. Marg Jackson/The Times

A tough week for Escalon’s varsity basketball girls saw them fall short against both Hilmar and Mountain House.

They lost at Hilmar on Tuesday, Jan. 17 by a 45-30 final.

“We scored 15 in each half,” said head coach Joseph Dalpogetti. “They scored 20 and 25, respectively. They’re much bigger than we are and they sat in a 2-3 zone and dared us to shoot from the outside.”

The strategy worked and Escalon also couldn’t get much past Hilmar’s tallest player – a six-footer – who helped lift the Yellowjackets to the win.

“We will have to execute better on drawing their center from the basket to get us some easier looks next time,” Dalpogetti noted.

Pacing the Lady Cougar effort was Shelby McCune with 10 points and Jenelle Anderson with eight.

“Thursday we lost to Mountain House 51-44. They play a different tempo than everyone else in the TVL, but we are accustomed to it because of our December schedule against Bay Area schools” added the coach. “We were down 12 at halftime after a bad second quarter.”

But the deficit didn’t get the team down.

“We fought back to cut it to four with four minutes left but could never get over the hump,” Dalpogetti said. “The girls played extremely hard, but we had a very rough offensive week. Shots we had previously been making just weren’t going in for us.”

Anderson led all Escalon scorers with a 16-point night on the home court. Haley Boyd chipped in with eight and McCune had seven. Mountain House maintained its perfect mark in league play with the win at Escalon. Ripon and Hilmar ended the week tied for second with 4-1 records in the TVL. Escalon will host both those teams – and will have to catch one – in the second round as they try to nail down the third and final spot in the playoffs.

The varsity girls hit the road for their next two, scheduled to play at Riverbank on Thursday, Jan. 26 and then go to Ripon Christian for a Tuesday, Jan. 31 contest.



The JV Lady Cougars were on the road Jan. 17 against Hilmar in a game that went in the books as a 31-29 loss for the Escalon squad in a game where they simply ran out of time.

“We were faced with a very early injury to our shooting guard Alexa Gomez,” said coach Thomas O’Hare.

The loss of Gomez left the team a little unnerved but they battled back against a formidable Hilmar team.

“If we would have had another minute, the Cougar girls would have rallied back to victory,” O’Hare predicted. “Within the last minute and 15 seconds, the Cougars went on an 11-3 run but just could not close the gap fast enough. They fought hard.”

The good news, though, was that what was thought at first to be a potential torn ligament for Gomez turned out not be quite as serious, with a recovery time projected within a few weeks.

Back on the home court on Thursday, the JV girls were locked in another battle, one that at times looked more like an MMA match than a high school basketball game – as they hosted Mountain House, ultimately coming away with the victory.

“Thursday’s game was an example of everything our girls have worked on coming together. The beginning of the game was chaos and analyzing the Mountain House JV team,” explained O’Hare. “A lot of the Cougar girls were forced into positions they are not normally asked to play. Mountain House got out to a quick 13-4 lead by the end of the first quarter. By halftime the score was 20-14.”

During the break, O’Hare said the team spoke about what was happening and how to correct the issues.

“Coming out of halftime Hunter Wheeler stepped up and took control of the offense with 12 points alone in the third quarter, assisted by Hannah Boyd taking the lead on defense and creating turnovers to make the score 32-27,” said O’Hare.

The lead changes continued briefly into the fourth quarter, with the host Escalon team finally getting a little breathing room with some late free throws and taking the win, 45-39.

Wheeler had a season high 18 points in the win, Boyd chipped in with 10 and Maddie Wall added seven points.

“The JV Cougar girls worked as a unit better than I had ever seen that night. I am very proud to be their coach and am excited for the remaining games in the season,” O’Hare said. “A great win and intense game.”