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Losses Plague Varsity Lady Cougars In League Play
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After a solid preseason, things started to get a little shaky in Trans-Valley League play.

Now, the wheels are starting to come off. And Escalon's varsity Lady Cougars have to find a way to get things back together for a run at the playoffs before it's too late.

"I don't know what to say," admitted head coach Gary Ball, dejectedly. "It's got to fall on us (coaches), from ninth grade to now, we haven't taught them how to shoot a basket."

The varsity girls were outscored 30-27 in a Monday game at home, then fell on the road Thursday, 50-46.

Hosting Hilmar in the Jan. 24 contest, the varsity Lady Cougars were strong defensively but couldn't take advantage of a Yellowjacket team that could have been beaten.

"This was a visiting team that on paper, was way better, and they came in flat," explained Ball. "You had two teams that played decent defense, but nobody wanted to shoot the ball worth a darn."

Escalon had a 7-6 lead in the first quarter but never scored more than 10 points in any single frame. Hilmar was steady, plodding along, and escaped with the 3-point win.

"Our kids played their hearts out in this game," Ball added. "Hilmar is a very good team defensively and our kids played great, we just couldn't make a basket."

Escalon was also just 3-for-8 from the free throw line and a couple of more shots made there could have been the difference between a win and a loss.

Kacey Ball was the leading scorer with seven points, Sandi French and Jennifer Costa each added six.

Despite the Monday loss, Ball said he and assistant coach Steve French went into the game on the road at Livingston with some optimism, believing they could steal one away on Thursday.

"They made 10 three's," Ball said of the host Wolves. "We took a 50-46 loss, we were down 32-18 at the half."

Battling back from that deficit, the Lady Cougars closed the gap to within three points late in the game.

"It's just disappointing that we probably missed 10 open lay-ups on press breaks by our post players," he said. "We gave the game away. It's a matter of focus and right now, we're just not very good."

Sophomore Costa turned in a strong performance, playing the best offensive game of her career, putting in 13 points on four field goals and 5-for-9 from the free throw line. Ball paced the team with 14 points.

And, coach Ball admitted, there were a couple of bright spots to build from in the Livingston game, as the girls refused to give up and finally started hitting some free throws.

"We'd been struggling from the line and this game, we were better," said Ball. "In the fourth quarter, we made six points on field goals and we had 11 points on free throws, we were 11-for-16 in the fourth to make a comeback."

Though they didn't make it all the way back, Ball said he will try to build on the momentum the girls carried through the Livingston game.

"We're going to pull back on practices," Ball added. "We've got to turn things around."

The girls will host Riverbank on Thursday, Feb. 3 and will have the chance to get some revenge on the home court against Livingston, hosting them on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m.