Finding themselves down by double digits more than once in the first half, the varsity Lady Cougars battled back but couldn’t quite close the gap, losing at home to Ripon on Jan. 12.
They then went on the road and took a tough loss at Ripon Christian in Trans-Valley League basketball action on Thursday.
Hosting Ripon, it was a 14-9 Lady Indian lead after one, 28-18 at the half.
Head coach Joseph Dalpogetti said his team kept pressuring, though, and climbed back into it in the third quarter, going on a 12-7 run to trail just 35-30 after three.
“I think Ripon is the fastest, most athletic team we have played,” Dalpogetti said. “It took us a half to adjust to that; we outscored them in the second half.”
Late in the game, the Lady Cougars cut the Ripon lead to a single point, but couldn’t convert on a couple of easy chances and then had to foul, sending the visitors to the free throw line. Ripon ended up with a 41-36 win.
“We held their best player to four points but some others went off for them,” Dalpogetti said.
Shelby McCune paced Escalon with 17 points, Jenelle Anderson put in 10.
Thursday, it was another close game, this one on the road at Ripon Christian and the varsity girls fell just short in a 33-30 loss, both games this week very low-scoring.
Host RC led it 9-3 after one, 15-10 at the half. Escalon trimmed the lead with a 7-3 run in the third, trailing 18-17 entering the final frame. Ripon was a bucket better, 15-13, over the final eight minutes.
Again, it was a game where Escalon battled their way back into the mix.
“They were up by 11 in the first half on two different occasions,” explained Dalpogetti. “We cut it to five just before half and we took the lead by three in the fourth, but then they hit a 3-pointer, we fouled them and they hit the free throw.”
Three Lady Cougars fouled out – Haley Boyd, Natalie Gonzalez and Sarah Leal – all starters. Anderson had 19 points in the loss, leading just a trio of Lady Cougars to get in the scorebook. McCune had seven points, Leal had four.
Now 1-2 in TVL play, the Lady Cougars were scheduled to play at Hughson on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and host Hilmar on Thursday, Jan. 21.
Dalpogetti said he anticipates a better outcome from this week’s contests now that they are getting back to full strength.
“We haven’t been healthy in a long time, it seems like we have had one or two starters out at a time with illness or injuries,” explained Dalpogetti. “We were 11-1 and have lost four of the last five, we just need everyone healthy.”