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Third Place Honors For Varsity Boys
Putting together a 3-1 week, Escalon's varsity basketball boys took a win in their home opener, then won two out of three in tournament play.

They hosted Waterford on Tuesday, Dec. 7 to kick off the season at home and came away with a 72-64 decision.

"We got out on them early, then we let them make some shots, they took a lead at halftime and they also outscored us in the third quarter, so we were down by four going into the fourth," explained head coach Martin Louro.

The team was able to regroup and put together a solid fourth quarter to earn the win.

Still playing without several team members continuing with football, Louro said the team is a good one without them, and will just get better when they are finally able to take the court.

"We're good enough with what we've got to stay afloat," he said of getting more wins than losses. "I want the guys not to focus on what we don't have, but focus on what we do."

And what they do have, he noted, is pretty good.

Tyler Schuurman poured in 23 points on the night against Waterford, along with the same total from Nate Peterson. Robbie Leal chipped in with 15.

The Cougars outscored Waterford 24-12 in the final period to take the win.

It was Schuurman who provided the spark, though.

"Tyler turned the game around, he dove for a loose ball, the Waterford guy was closer to it but Tyler dove and got it, the whole team responded," Louro explained.

Thursday through Saturday, the team headed to the Atwater Tournament, facing off first with Franklin of Stockton.

"It was about what I expected, they were a real athletic team but there was not a lot of discipline, not a lot of structure," said Louro.

Conversely, the Cougars showed Franklin their best.

"It was our best full game performance of the year," Louro agreed of the 84-66 win. "Everybody scored that night and no one had fewer than six points."

Leaders were Peterson with 19 points and sophomores John David with 13, Brian Gregorio with 10.

In round two, the Cougars met up with Oakdale and lost a heartbreaker in overtime, a 68-67 loss on a shot at the buzzer.

It looked as though Escalon had won the game in regulation but one official ruled Oakdale called a time out with 1.5 seconds left. They had time for one shot after getting the ball inbounds and it went in, setting up the overtime.

"Oakdale went on to win the tournament," noted Louro. "We had chances to win it in regulation."

Schuurman had 21 points, Patrick Mulry added 17.

In Saturday's third place game against Buhach Colony, which co-hosted the tournament with Atwater, the Cougars battled to an 85-83 win to come with third place honors.

"This was a good quality win for us, we had to go to overtime again," Louro said. "We had a 3-point lead in regulation but they banked one in to send it to OT."

Still, the Cougars were able to hold off the Division II school, outscoring them 10-8 in the extra frame.

"I told the guys when it went to overtime not to worry about it, I said the longer we're out there, the better it is because we are a better team than them," Louro said.

With the four extra minutes, Escalon put the game in the win column.

Peterson and Schuurman had 24 points each to lead the team, with 16 apiece from Leal and Mulry.

"This was a real turning point for the guys," added Louro. "We know we're missing some very important pieces, but we're not too bad with what we have."

The boys will be heading to Reno for a tournament Thursday through Saturday, still missing a few football players, who will be going south for the state bowl game in Carson.

"We're 4-4 right now and I really think for this group, the sky's the limit," Louro said. "We'll go up there (Reno) and hope to get two out of three in the tournament."

The Cougars will then be home for a Tuesday, Dec. 21 contest against Delhi with the varsity game at 6 p.m.