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Postseason sees Lady Cougar hoopsters hitting their stride
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Senior Macie Vickers protects the ball as she looks to barrel her way past the duo of Sonora defenders during Thursday night action in Escalon. The varsity Lady Cougars won the quarterfinal playoff game, 48-27. Marg Jackson/The Times

A pair of playoff wins at home made for a successful week for the varsity Lady Cougars on the basketball court.

They opened up the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 action hosting the Sacramento High Dragons on Tuesday, Feb. 14. It was a doubleheader for Escalon on the home court, as the varsity girls played first, followed by the varsity boys, who also got a first round win.

Escalon came in as the number three seed in Division 4, hosting number 14 seed Sac High.

Escalon head coach Joseph Dalpogetti said their opponent had one player averaging just under 20 points per game but no one else averaged more than five. Still, he said, they were one of the best road teams in the playoffs and the Lady Cougars knew it would be a difficult match up.

“We got off to a hot start and led 19-2 before they went to a zone,” the coach said.

Escalon didn’t do a great job attacking the zone, added Dalpogetti, and they held on to just a nine-point lead at the half. Sac High hit a three-pointer out of the break and Escalon’s lead was down to six points

“We had to win the game all over again,” Dalpogetti said. “From that point on we went on a 16-4 run the remainder of the quarter to lead 44-26 heading into the fourth.”

Final score was 59-37 for the Lady Cougars, paced by Macie Vickers with 20 points, Sammy Lang with 18 and Chloe Farley with 12.

That set up the Thursday night showdown with Sonora, which took a double overtime win against number six Liberty Ranch on Tuesday. Sonora came in as the number 11 seed.

“We had already played Sonora earlier this season in a tournament and won 60-28, but we knew that they would be better prepared this time around to handle our pressure defense,” Dalpogetti said.

Madi Babasa opened the game with a three-pointer for Escalon and the host Lady Cougars had leads of 8-1, 11-3 and 14-5 before Sonora banked in a couple shots and trimmed the lead to 14-9.

“Five is as close as they would get it on the night,” Dalpogetti explained. “We finally pushed the lead to 20 on a Sammy Lang lay up right before the end of the third and we won 48-27.”

Sonora threw “everything but the kitchen sink” at the Lady Cougars defensively early, first with a box and one on Lang, then switching to man and eventually settling in to a zone defense.

“Our defense was impressive,” Dalpogetti added. “Their point guard was averaging 14 points per game and handles the ball about 85 percent of the time for them. She didn’t score until there was four minutes left in the game.”

Babasa was leading scorer for Escalon in the win with 18 points, Lang had 12 and Vickers had 10.

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Lady Cougar Aiden Hohenwarter pulls down the rebound and fights off her Sonora opponent as teammate Ari Velasco looks on. Escalon hosted Sonora in the Division 4 Section quarterfinals on Thursday night, Feb. 15 and took a 48-27 win off the court. Marg Jackson/The Times