By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Playoff Hopes Alive For Lady Cougars
Placeholder Image
Losing their first game of the week, the varsity Lady Cougars then rolled off two straight wins to improve to 4-6 in Trans-Valley League play.

All three contests were on the home court, starting off with the Patterson game on Monday, Jan. 31. Escalon lost by a 41-23 verdict.

"As much as we thought we could match up with them, we had problems," admitted coach Gary Ball.

Patterson jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the first quarter and maintained an 18-9 lead at the half.

"Defensively, we couldn't ask for a whole lot more," Ball said of the effort from his team. "It was a very poor offensive night for us and Patterson put the clamps on us when they needed to at the end."

Kacey Ball led the team with 10 points and was the only player in double figures. No one else had more than four points.

Thursday, the girls regrouped and played a solid game against visiting Riverbank, defeating the Lady Bruins 46-37.

"We beat them there (at Riverbank) and we knew what they were going to give us," Ball said of the aggressive game. "We did a better job on the pressure defense with them. The first half was pretty even but in the second half, we scored 30 points...we showed we wanted to win more than they did."

The teams were knotted at 7-7 after one, Escalon edged out to a 16-13 lead at the half.

"It was a pretty mediocre first half," Ball agreed. "But people got what they paid for in the second half, that half was a very good game and we had more people contributing."

Eight players scored for Escalon, led by Ball with 15 points and Lauren Brown with 10. Escalon held a 26-25 lead after three quarters, then scored 20 points over the final eight minutes to seal the win.

"It was a little bit tight," said Ball. "Kat Tavares hit four of her seven points in that fourth quarter and Alyssa Guzman's shot, a 3-pointer, was a big one for us in the fourth, gave us some breathing room."

The win pumped up the squad, sending them in to Saturday's match with Livingston on a high note.

"We took charge early," Ball said of the rare weekend contest. "We were up by 11 before we knew it and we beat them, 48-35."

Escalon held a 17-4 lead after one quarter and were up 21-15 at the half.

"When they pressed us the first time we played, we panicked and that hurt us," Ball explained.

This time, working on that particular scenario in practice on Friday paid off, as the Lady Cougars handled the Livingston pressure.

"It was nice to work on something Friday and have it work, their press never hurt us," the coach noted. "Last time, we were down by 14 at halftime and cut it to two."

Saturday, the Lady Cougars played solidly all the way through, including the big outburst in the first quarter.

"Sandi French had five points, Kelly Colin had six points in that first quarter and that relaxed us," Ball said. "Kacey and Kat got two fouls early and Livingston made their run in the second quarter."

The Wolves couldn't get past the determined host team, however, Escalon outscoring them 17-7 in the third to keep some distance between them.

"This is what we've been looking for," Ball said of solid efforts out of everyone. "We got 14 points out of our post position, that's something if we could get consistently, we'd be a better team."

The girls improved to 4-6 in league with the wins, 11-9 overall.

Colin had her best game of the season, pouring in a dozen points to lead the varsity girls. French and Jennifer Costa added nine each.

"Jennifer also worked the boards tremendously hard," said Ball.

Realistically, Ball said, the girls will have to at least split their final four league games in order to make the playoffs.

"It's doable," he said. "If not, I'm going fishing."

The girls will be at home for their final home game of the season on Thursday, Feb. 10 taking on Ripon in a 7:30 p.m. contest. They finish up on the road, at Ripon Christian on Monday, Feb. 14 and at Hilmar on Thursday, Feb. 17.