Hosting the annual Lions Club girls basketball tournament, this year re-named the Pete Arellano Memorial Tournament in honor of the late longtime EHS teacher and coach, the varsity girls claimed second place and the JV girls were third.
Both teams won two games and lost one, the varsity losing out in the championship game against Central Catholic, the JV girls winning the consolation game over Excel Academy.
For the varsity girls, it was a strong start to tournament play, as they handled Big Valley in a 49-25 contest on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
“Shelby McCune had 11 points, Natalie Gonzalez and Sarah Leal each had 10,” explained varsity head coach Joseph Dalpogetti. “It was 28-16 at half; we pretty much controlled the game from start to finish.”
The opening round victory put the varsity girls into the winner’s bracket, and they faced off with Amador on Thursday. Early on in that contest, it was 6-6, but Escalon got hot and raced to a big lead, keeping Amador at bay in a 47-25 final.
Escalon had a 7-6 lead after the first quarter, went on a 17-0 run before Amador found the basket in the second quarter, and took the overwhelming 24-8 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Dalpogetti said his team really took off when they switched to a zone defense, which upset the Amador offense and gave Escalon more opportunities on their end.
Justine Lawrence poured in 12 points for the Lady Cougars, with 10 points apiece from Jenelle Anderson and Sarah Leal.
“We try to stress being tough,” Dalpogetti noted. “Box out when the shot goes up.”
The Lady Cougars did a good job of bringing that toughness to the court against Amador and the effort continued in Friday’s championship game. The contest went to overtime and Central Catholic came away with a 58-57 win, claiming the tournament title.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Dalpogetti admitted. “They had beaten us by 18 points the past Monday in the Foundation Game.”
Escalon played a much stronger game this time around and very nearly took down the Raiders.
“We made too many mental mistakes,” said the coach. “We were leading 57-56 with 14 seconds left (in overtime) and we took a shot, instead of running down the clock, it didn’t go and we didn’t get back on defense.”
Central made the basket in transition to go up by one point, Escalon didn’t have time to answer.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” added Dalpogetti. “We played the end of the fourth quarter and overtime without Jenelle and Shelby, they fouled out.”
The Lady Cougars also went just 16-for-37 from the free throw line. Anderson had 14 points, including 10 in the third quarter, while Leal had a banner night with 22 points against the Raiders.
“We put up 57 points against the toughest team we have faced,” Dalpogetti said of some positives from the contest. “We were trusting our offense more than in the past, we got some good looks and I really liked the energy; they played hard, I was really proud of the effort.”
Leal and Anderson were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
The varsity girls play in the Linden Tournament Thursday through Saturday this week, opening up against Bret Harte on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Head coach Kacey Cheary guided her team to a third place finish in the three-day tournament, starting off with a win over Johansen, a 41-24 victory on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
“The girls played well, we had a lot of people score and everybody got in,” Cheary said of the opening round contest. “This was our first real game other than scrimmages and the girls worked hard.”
Haylie Corriea scored 10 points for the JV squad and Emily McPherrin pitched in with nine.
“Game two was much tougher, it was a 32-26 loss to Amador,” Cheary said. “We played hard but we made some key mistakes that gave them some quick points.”
Corriea had 11 points, Priscilla Nowling added six.
“It was close at half, we were down 20-14 and it was a back and forth game,” said the coach. “We cut the lead to two but couldn’t quite catch them.”
That put Escalon into the consolation third-fourth place game on Friday, and they took on Excel Academy. Amador topped Central Catholic, meanwhile, in the JV championship game.
“It was a rough first half, the girls weren’t playing the way they could,” Cheary said of battling Excel to a 19-19 tie after two periods.
Challenging the team at half to step it up, Cheary said the JV squad responded and came away with a 45-31 win to claim the third place trophy.
Three players – McPherrin, Madison Kindberg and Alexa Gomez – each put in eight points in the win, while Corriea was once again the leading scorer, hitting double digits with 10 points.
“They came back with more intensity in the second half,” said Cheary. “Overall it was a good tournament.”
The JV team heads to the East Union Tournament this week, with games Thursday through Saturday.