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Riverbank Takes Down Escalon In Section Semifinal Round
Girls Travel For NorCals Second Round
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Senior Kelsey Webster, 13, defends against the Riverbank attack in the varsity girls Section Division 4 semifinal game on the road on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Host Riverbank prevailed with a 58-41 victory, stopping Escalon short of a trip to the Section final. Times Photo By Ric McGinnis

A first round NorCal win over AIMS College Prep out of Oakland on Tuesday has given 'road warrior' a new definition for Escalon.

The varsity basketball girls hosted AIMS and took a convincing 61-36 win on Feb. 28, the No. 8 seed Cougars upending the No. 9 seed Golden Eagles. That win puts the Lady Cougars on a roughly 300-mile road trip, for a 6 p.m. tip off Thursday, March 2 at Fall River High School in McArthur. The top seed Fall River Bulldogs took a 75-22 win over No. 16 Big Valley in the first round on Tuesday.

Escalon enters the game with a 20-9 overall mark, under the direction of head coach Joseph Dalpogetti. Fall River was 10-0, first place in the Shasta Cascade League during the regular season, and comes in at 25-2 overall.

Meanwhile, earlier action saw the Lady Cougars battling in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

The third time wasn’t the charm for Escalon’s varsity basketball girls.

Facing off with Trans-Valley League rival Riverbank in the Section action, number 10 seed Escalon traveled to number three Riverbank for the Division 4 semifinal game on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Host Riverbank prevailed with a 58-41 win; stopping the Lady Cougars short of a chance to play for the Section title.

Riverbank then lost 56-38 to top seed Colfax in the championship game on Friday, Feb. 24, settling for Section runner-up honors.

“We got down 5-0 and could never really claw back in the game,” Escalon head coach Joseph Dalpogetti said of the semifinal round.

Escalon went 0-for-3 against Riverbank this season, twice in league play and once in the postseason.

“We were down eight after one and down 14 at halftime,” added Dalpogetti. “In the third I thought we strung together quite a few stops but our offense was just not there all night long and after the (third) quarter we only made a two-point dent in the halftime score.”

The gym on the Riverbank High School campus was packed; the relatively short trip saw plenty of Escalon fans at the game and though they were loud and supportive, Dalpogetti said his team just couldn’t put it all together on that particular night.

“I kind of felt it in my gut at that point was going to be tough to win the game if we didn’t make a run during the times our defense was getting the job done,” the coach said of balancing out the offense and defense, looking for more offensive production when the opportunity arose. “I had several coaching colleagues mention they had the same feeling during that stretch, too.”

Macie Vickers paced the Escalon effort with 21 points. Also in double figures on the night was Kelsey Webster, chipping in with 10 points; the two of them accounting for the majority of scoring.

Escalon did get two victories in the D4 playoffs, topping No. 7 Capital Christian and No. 2 Calaveras in the opening and quarterfinal rounds before bowing out in the semifinals. They were on the road for the entire Section schedule, in Sacramento where they crafted a 58-44 win on Feb. 14 and in San Andreas where it was a 48-46 win on Feb. 16.

Dalpogetti said the team was appreciative of the support at that semifinal contest.

“That was hands down the biggest crowd I have ever seen at a girls basketball game,” he said.

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Lady Cougar Sammy Lang fights her way through the Riverbank defense in semifinal Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoff basketball on the road on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The 58-41 loss knocked Escalon out of the D4 bracket. Times Photo By Ric McGinnis