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Strong Start To Season For Cougar Basketball Boys
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The Foundation game doesn't count on paper, played as a fundraiser for the CIF, but it was a win for Escalon's varsity boys against Central Catholic and to them, it counts plenty.

"It won't figure in to the power ratings," admitted varsity head coach Martin Louro. "Technically it doesn't count but we never trailed in this game."

Escalon hosted Central on Monday, Nov. 30 and took a 61-56 win off the court. Raymond David led all scorers with 19 points and sophomore Gino Franceschetti put in 10. Vince Aufdermaur had 9 and Robbie Leal had eight points.

While it doesn't count in the standings, Louro said it was an important victory for the team, getting that first 'W' in the first game on their home court this season. Earlier, they had topped Gustine on the road in a Nov. 23 game, opening up the campaign 2-0.

They headed to Waterford on Tuesday, Dec. 1 and made it 3-0, as they topped the Wildcats there by a 72-54 decision.

Nate Caton poured in 19 points, with nine each from Patrick Mulry and Brandon Shaw.

They then hit the highway for a road trip to the Reno Tournament, with games Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Louro said traveling to the tournament and facing some larger schools was beneficial, with the team getting in a lot of work and coming away with a 1-2 mark. The first game on Thursday was against Merced.

"We played them well, we were up 16-7 in the first quarter, then their coach called a time out and basically yelled at them," Louro explained.

The tactic woke up the Merced squad, which went on an 11-0 run to close out the first quarter, leading 18-16.

The game ended in a 71-55 loss for the Cougars, but Louro said they battled tough. Free throws, however, were problematic.

"Merced was 17-for-18, we were 6-for-19," Louro said. "Free throws were a difference in our losses at the tournament ... sometimes that just comes down to confidence."

In the loss, Leal had 15 points, Tyler Schuurman had 10 and Franceschetti notched seven.

"Vince Aufdermaur is just playing good basketball for us right now," Louro added of the player who didn't show up on the scoring sheet as a leader but was one on the court in many other ways.

Friday, the boys matched up with Los Banos and beat them by a 60-45 decision.

"This was a game we really wanted to get, it was against another big school," Louro said. "We played well but we would get up on them and let them come back."

Learning how to put teams away will be key for the Cougars, the coach noted, as they have to figure out how to play with a lead and not let teams get close once they have taken control.

"We haven't developed our identity yet," Louro said. "We're still letting them get back in it."

Franceschetti paced the team with 17 points, hitting five 3's in the contest. Aufdermaur had seven, with six each from Shaw and David. The varsity squad wrapped it up with a game against Spanish Springs of Sparks, Nevada and took a 48-42 loss.

"They are the best defensive team we've played," Louro said. "We played well and have done very well defensively, we're developing some consistency."

Franceschetti had 18 points in the loss, 15 of them on 3's, with Leal also in double figures with 10. Aufdermaur had six and the Cougars were 8-for-16 from the free throw line.

"We got down about 10 in this one and battled. That's our next step, learning how to come back," Louro said. "We missed some close to the rim shots, you have to make them, especially when you are on the road."

Louro said he was pleased overall with the tournament trip, getting in solid efforts and tightening up on the defense.

"It's a lot easier to win when you don't have to score 70," he noted.

After five games their first full week of play, the boys are in the midst of five more this week, making it 10 games in 14 days.

They were scheduled to play at Delhi on Monday, Dec. 7 and at Linden on Tuesday, Dec. 8 after The Times went to pres. They head to the Atwater Tournament for games Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 10 though 12. The JV team will also be at the Atwater Tournament, while the freshmen play in the Amador Tournament.

The next home game for the Cougars is Tuesday, Dec. 22 against Hilmar.