By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Varsity Boys Fall To Ripon, Modesto Christian On Court
Home for the first game of the week, Escalon's varsity boys basketball team didn't do what they normally do ... and it cost them.

The boys hosted Ripon on Tuesday, Feb. 3 and lost an 82-52 decision.

"We knew, looking at the schedule, that this would be a tough week," admitted coach Martin Louro.

Ripon was coming off an unexpected loss to Ripon Christian and came in looking to reestablish themselves among the top squads in the Trans-Valley League. On the flip side, Escalon lost a disheartening contest to Hughson, which came from behind the Friday before to take the Homecoming contest from the host Cougars.

"I was a little concerned, Friday night after the Hughson loss, it took so much out of them to lose that game," Louro explained. "We came out (Tuesday) and there wasn't a whole lot of effort, especially in the first quarter."

Ripon was hitting on all cylinders early, running out to a 32-6 edge in the first quarter. After that frame, Escalon regrouped and played much better, but the damage had already been done.

Ripon outscored them 20-14 in the second for a 52-20 halftime lead, with the Indians also enjoying a 26-20 run in the third. Escalon finally got going in the fourth, outscoring Ripon 12-4.

"After the first quarter it was fairly respectable," noted Louro. "They did play a lot better in the second and third quarters, it really was just that first quarter; we came out flat."

Justin Gutierrez put in 16 points on the night to lead the Cougars, with Doyle Niu chipping in 10 and Travis Cardoza scoring eight.

Louro said the game provided the team with some food for thought.

"After that one, we were all disappointed in our effort," the coach said. "So I asked them, what feels worse, losing (Homecoming) Friday night or tonight and they said tonight ... they knew they didn't play to their capability."

Louro said he was pleased with the answer because in the Hughson game, the team gave their all and could feel good about the effort, if not the outcome. Failing to show up from the starting tip off against Ripon, however, left the bad feeling because the players knew they could have done better.

"That was the right answer," he said. "That's the way I wanted them to feel."

It was then that the team made a commitment, to themselves and to each other.

"The last five games, we said to give it our best effort and let the chips fall," Louro said.

They knew which way the chips would likely fall on the road on Friday, with a trip to Modesto Christian. But they put in a solid effort and kept the game close through much of the third period, before the host Crusaders turned it up a notch and put the game out of reach in the final frame.

Modesto Christian took a 24-21 lead after one quarter of play and were able to stretch it to a 48-39 margin at the half. The Crusaders had a 65-49 lead after three.

"We cut it to a five-point deficit two different times in the third quarter," Louro explained of the intense effort from his team. "But Brandon (Shaw) got into foul trouble and against MC we really need him on the floor."

Having to sit Shaw through part of the third because of four fouls and losing him early in the fourth when he fouled out was a factor, as he had contained MC's big scoring threat for a good portion of the evening.

Modesto Christian outscored Escalon 29-16 over the final eight minutes to take the game, 94-65.

"Brandon did a real good job guarding their best player," Louro added. "He did a good job on him in the second and most of the third quarter."

Fatigue became a factor for the Cougars as well, with the starters getting much of the court time. Modesto Christian, meanwhile, was able to stay fresh.

"They can put in their 10th and 11th guys and there isn't much difference from the third and fourth guys," Louro noted of the deep, well-balanced MC squad. "They're a very potent, very good team."

Raymond David did what Louro has been looking for from him all season, notching six 3's and putting in 20 points on the night.

"That's what we need from him," the coach said. "Doyle Niu had a solid effort with 15 points and we had two guys with seven, Justin Gutierrez and Travis Cardoza."

Coming off the bench to knock down a pair of treys late in the game was Mac Heard, contributing six points to the team total.

"Overall, we played extremely well," Louro said. "The final score really was not indicative of the game. We got gassed and had a key guy foul out in the fourth."

Vince Aufdermaur put in four points and even with the loss, Louro said he was pleased with the effort he got from the entire team.

"We've got two weeks left, four games," he said. "We're expecting to be in a position to win the next few games."

The Cougars were slated to host Ripon Christian on Tuesday, Feb. 10 after The Times went to press and will play their final home game of the season on Thursday, Feb. 12 when they host Riverbank in a 7:30 p.m. contest.

It will also be Senior Night, with special recognition for senior players, cheerleaders and their parents. Seniors on the team this year are Justin Gutierrez, Justin Machado, Doyle Niu, Leighton Pangilinan, Casey Henke and Phil Quiroz.