After falling in the title game the past few years, the Escalon varsity Lady Cougars took first place in their own Pete Arellano Memorial Tournament, hosted by the Lions Club.
To do it, they got past nemesis Central Catholic in the finale on Friday, Dec. 1. Priscilla Nowling was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Lady Cougar Shelby McCune was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
They opened up with a 42-27 win against Johansen on Wednesday, Nov. 29.
“We were able to play everybody a lot of minutes,” said head coach Joseph Dalpogetti. “They (Johansen) never really threatened to cut it to single digits the entire game.”
Escalon kept their foot on the gas the whole way and kept Johansen from mounting any type of serious threat.
The varsity Lady Cougars took a 16-3 lead after one quarter and never looked back, leading 24-8 at the half.
Sylvia Guevara led the way with 12 points, Shelby McCune and Emily McPherrin added eight points each while McCune had 14 rebounds. Priscilla Nowling pulled down 12 boards, Guevara had eight.
In the winner’s bracket for their Thursday night game, the varsity girls topped Amador by a 41-28 final. The game was close through the first half, Escalon leading by just a slim four point margin at the half, 17-13. But they found their groove coming out of the locker room to start the third quarter.
“It was tight at the half, a competitive game,” agreed Dalpogetti. “We had a big third quarter, extended it to a double digit lead.”
Down the stretch, the varsity girls also made some nice set plays, inbounding passes to McCune, who was able to convert on the shots.
Up 12-7 after one, it was 17-13 Escalon at the half, with the girls taking control and leading 30-17 after three quarters.
McCune had 14 points, Daisy Camacho added seven. Nowling and McCune had nine rebounds each and McCune also had six blocks.
Friday, it was the match up the girls had waited for, taking on the Central Catholic squad that had defeated them earlier in the week in the Foundation Game to kick off the season. The loss was by just four points and Dalpogetti said his team had to adjust to some of the defensive strategies of Central to get in the win column.
“We knew we had to be prepared for some pressure,” Dalpogetti explained. “We were able to break it early and went up 11-4.”
The ability to break that pressure gave the Lady Cougars some confidence and they seemed to hit their stride, battling Central and coming away with a 50-46 victory.
“It was 25-25 at halftime,” noted the coach of the hard-fought title game.
Escalon had a 15-11 lead after one but Central outscored them 14-10 in the second to get the game tied. Central took the lead, 39-36, after three but Escalon doubled them up in the final game, outscoring them 14-7 for the victory.
At one point, each team had a lead of at least six points in the back and forth contest.
“Hannah Boyd had a couple big shots down the stretch and Priscilla played tough defense all day on their best player, and she scored 16 points, it was an MVP performance,” Dalpogetti said.
McCune was also in double digits in the final game with 10 points.
In winning the championship of their own tournament for the first time in at least a decade, Dalpogetti said it was an important three days for his team.
“I really think it’s huge,” he added of the title game win over Central. “I think it goes so far beyond this year. This group of girls doesn’t like losing and the difference is now we have a group that expects to win.”
This week, the girls head out to the Antioch Tournament for games Thursday through Saturday.