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Tournament Title For JV Cougars Boys
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With three wins in the Orestimba holiday tournament, Escalon's JV boys claimed the championship of the basketball competition.

They put away Firebaugh and Trans-Valley League rivals Patterson and Hilmar in winning the title over the three-day tourney, Monday through Wednesday, Dec. 20 through 22.

Against Firebaugh, the JV Cougars came away with a 47-26 victory.

Jared August scored 10 points, Phil Parrish put in seven and Brian French had six.

"We had the game under control throughout, everyone got a lot of playing time," said coach Greg Largent.

Coming back against Patterson in the semi-final round, the Escalon boys battled to a win, taking the contest with a 61-42 decision.

"We had just a 29-25 lead at the half," explained Largent. "Then we played good defense in the third quarter, we held them to just one point."

The JV Cougars then exploded for 23 points in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Parrish paved the way with 19 points, Steve Largent added 12 and August put in eight.

"Down the stretch, they tried to foul us," Largent said, noting that the strategy backfired when his team hit many of those free throws.

"We put in Scott Backovich because he is a good free throw shooter and he hit five of six in the fourth quarter," said the coach.

The championship game against Hilmar ended in a 56-36 win for the Cougars on Wednesday to close out the competition with the crown.

"That game was closer than the score indicated," said Largent. "Midway through the fourth quarter, they cut the lead to eight."

Suffering through a roughly five-minute scoring drought, the JV boys kept Hilmar at arm's length and held them off, with a big 3-pointer from David Anderson ending the scoring drought midway through the final period.

"That got us back on track, he hit it just as the shot clock went off," Largent said. "That was the big bucket of the night."

From there, the JV boys went on to score 18 over the final few minutes and took the win.

Parrish was named as the tournament MVP, leading the team in the finale with 23 points. Anderson had 10, Largent eight and August five. August and Largent were both All-Tournament Team selections but Largent - who missed the first game - relinquished his honor to his teammates, saying they deserved it rather than him.

Coach Largent, his father, said the move was unprecedented.

"It was a nice gesture," he added.

This week, the boys are busy with the Oakdale Rotary Holiday Classic Tournament, with games continuing Wednesday, Dec. 29 and Thursday, Dec. 30.