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Tough weeks see five losses for JV girls
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Struggling to find their offense, the JV Lady Cougars have fallen in five games in Trans-Valley League basketball action over the past couple of weeks.

"We're just not doing too good right now," coach Dave Lattig said simply.

Most recent games were on the road at Hilmar on Monday, Jan. 26 and at home against Livingston on Thursday, Jan. 29.

At Hilmar, the girls lost a 37-20 decision to the team that will likely claim the JV crown.

Kara Lind had six points in the loss, Tara Gutierrez scored four and several players had two points each.

"The girls are playing wonderfully, considering we brought four sophomores up to the varsity," noted varsity head coach Gary Ball.

The girls put up a fight but ultimately lost to Livingston in the Jan. 29 game, a 32-25 contest.

"We kept it close," agreed Lattig. "We gave ourselves a chance to win it."

Livingston outscored the JV girls 11-5 in the first quarter but Escalon trimmed the deficit to 16-12 at the half and continued to battle, getting as close as 30-25 with a 3-pointer from Stephanie Williamson and then two Megan McNinch free throws with 1:56 to play in the game. But the Wolves also had a chance to sink a couple free throws at the end and took the 32-25 win.

McNinch paced the team with eight points, Williamson had five, Megan Warren added four and Gutierrez had three.

Hosting Ripon on Jan. 20, the JV squad stayed close in the first half and were down by just a 27-19 verdict after two periods.

"We felt pretty confident we could stop their tall girl, we tried to deny the ball, keep the ball away from her," explained Lattig.

While they were successful with that in the first half, the game plan didn't work as well in the second half and the JV girls went down in defeat, 53-32.

"We fought hard but we're just struggling offensively right now," Lattig said.

Lind led the team with 10 points, including a couple of 3-point shots, with Jennifer Costa and McNinch each adding eight.

At Ripon Christian for a Jan. 22 game, Lattig said he saw some improvement but the girls still came up short, losing 26-19.

"We played really good defense," the coach said. "At half-time it was just 10-7."

The girls continued to fight and Williamson cut the lead to 22-19 late in the game with a 3-pointer.

"Then with about a minute left in the game, Stephanie McPherson had a 3-pointer that went in and out, that would have tied the game."

Down by three in the final minute, the JV girls had to foul the host squad.

"They hit four free throws in a row, that made it 26-19," said Lattig.

Williamson scored six points to lead the team, all in the fourth quarter. Megan Brown had three points but she was singled out for her defensive work, keeping the JV girls in the game with blocked shots and knocking away balls.

"It was real exciting to see her come along with her defense," Lattig said. "She was also 3-for-4 in free throws."

Playing a rare Saturday game on Jan. 24, the girls were without two players, missing on pre-arranged commitments, and the JV squad lost a 33-16 decision at Livingston.

"Livingston is physical and fast, it was 14-3 at halftime and just pretty much got outhustled, really," said Lattig. "It was also pretty hard playing on a Saturday, out of the normal routine."

Kara Fisher and Tiffany McGuire had three points each to lead the way.

"Those two really showed some improvement, both were starting to find their rhythm in the game, so we look for the small victories."

Next up for the JV girls is a game at Riverbank on Thursday, Feb. 5, game time is 5 p.m.