A loss by four points in overtime, a win on the road in regulation – both the Escalon varsity basketball games went down to the wire for the boys this week, as they gained a split in Trans-Valley League play.
Tuesday at home, they lost in overtime to Hilmar, 53-49.
“We lost to a real good Hilmar team and it was defensive battle,” explained head coach Martin Louro. “They’re real big, 6-foot-5, 6-foot-8, across the front line.”
Escalon utilized a strategy where they made it hard on the Hilmar guards to get inside and, though falling behind the visitors early, battled back to make it a game that took more than four quarters to determine a winner.
Louro pointed to the defensive effort of Estephan Salcedo, put on Hilmar’s top shooter. Salcedo held him to a single basket in the first quarter, no baskets in the second, one basket and two free throws in the third quarter and a basket and three free throws in the fourth quarter. He also hit a basket and had four free throws in the overtime period, but Salcedo’s efforts kept him contained and well below his season average in points.
“We gave ourselves every opportunity, the guys are playing hard and I am happy with where we are, they have bought in,” explained Louro of the team finding its way. “We are giving ourselves a chance every night, putting a respectable product on the court.”
Tommy Pangan had 27 points on the night and Salcedo chipped in with nine.
“Tommy had four three’s, hit 11-of-13 free throws and hit two two’s,” Louro added.
Hilmar had a 13-4 lead after one, Escalon rebounded to take an 18-16 lead at the half. The Cougars had 17 points over the third and fourth quarters; Hilmar had 19 as the teams ended regulation tied at 45-45. The visiting Yellowjackets put in eight points in the overtime period and Escalon just four, Hilmar taking the victory.
Pangan hit three clutch free throws after being fouled on an attempt from outside the arc that sent the game into OT.
Friday, the Cougars traveled to Mountain House and dug themselves a big hole in the opening frame, but used a huge scoring edge in the second half to get a 69-64 win.
“I think schools look at our record and come in with some confidence, they were hitting every shot in the first quarter,” Louro said of Mountain House roaring to a 23-12 lead in the first eight minutes. The Mustangs had a 13-12 edge in the second to lead it at the half, 36-24.
“They had five three’s in the first quarter alone, I think we were shell-shocked,” admitted Louro. “But we didn’t quit.”
A 21-13 third quarter run saw Escalon enter the final frame down just 49-45 and they poured in 24 points to the host team’s 15 in the last quarter to nail down the win.
“We took the lead with three or four minutes to play, the lead changed a few times after that,” said Louro.
Pangan had 28 points to lead the team, Salcedo had 17 and Steven Grossi added eight in the win.
“I can’t say enough about Tommy, at 5-foot-8 he is one of our better rebounders, he has always been a good scorer, he’s just playing unbelievable basketball right now,” Louro said.
Escalon went 2-4 the first time through league and start second round action with their Homecoming game on Friday night, hosting Riverbank in a 7:30 p.m. contest.
It was another tough week for the JV boys, as they fell in both their games. They played a solid three quarters at Hilmar on Tuesday but were outscored 18-2 in the fourth quarter and then 11-4 in the extra frame, losing 51-44 in overtime.
“The wheels fell off in the fourth quarter,” head coach Nate Bartelink said of taking a 38-22 lead into the final period but ending regulation tied at 40-40. “Everything went wrong that could have, we had lots of turnovers, we couldn’t get stops … it was a tough one to swallow, the kids worked hard but we made too many mistakes.”
Lucca Dutra had 11 points, Mikey Carroll added nine and Brad DaDalt had seven in the team’s third overtime game in a row.
Friday, they were on the road at Mountain House and lost a 57-35 decision.
“We just played poorly,” admitted Bartelink. “Too many mental and physical mistakes, again not getting the stops, poor execution, maybe just trying to do too much.”
Escalon trailed 15-7 after one, 32-15 at the half and 37-20 after three. They had their best quarter at the end of the game, scoring 15 over the final eight minutes, but Mountain House countered with 20 points.
DaDalt had 15 points on the night, Dutra had seven. The JV boys ended the first round at 2-4 and had a bye on Tuesday, getting some extra time to prepare for Friday’s Homecoming contest.
“This will be a test of their character, we need to work hard in practice, take a breath, focus on some things,” Bartelink said. “But we have to remember it’s a game, it should be fun.”
Head coach Dave Anderson said his young Cougars won Tuesday’s home contest against Hilmar.
“Colton Panero and Austin Terra played well,” Anderson said. “We lost a tough one against Mountain House, 38 to 32.”
Though that Friday road game was a loss, Anderson said it was a good game defensively, and Jacob Walden had double digit rebounds.