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Varsity Cougar Basketball Boys Fall To Hughson, Ripon

Hughson doubled up Escalon and Ripon roughed their way past the Cougars in varsity boys basketball action this week, the Escalon boys dropping a pair of Trans-Valley League contests.

They were on the road at Hughson for a Tuesday, Jan. 15 game and were handed a 72-36 setback by the host Huskies.

"We actually just really laid an egg that night," coach Martin Louro admitted. "For the first time, I was disappointed with the effort, we just really didn't play well at all."

Hughson was ready to go at the tip off, but it took Escalon a little longer to get in gear. In fact, the Huskies roared out to a 23-9 lead after the first quarter and never looked back from there, forcing the Cougars to try and play catch up.

A closer battle in the second quarter saw Hughson outscore Escalon 19-15, leading 42-24 at the half.

"They're going to be a tough match up for us if we play well," Louro pointed out of the Huskies. "We can't show up and play lethargic against them."

Escalon had few answers defensively for Hughson, as the host team enjoyed a 19-4 scoring edge in the third quarter and stayed a few points better, 11-8, in the final frame.

"It was just a poor effort," Louro said of his team.

James Harrison was the leading scorer for Escalon with 12 points and was the only one in double figures.

"He's played solid throughout the league season," Louro said.

Doyle Niu added seven points in the loss and Tim Bacay had five.

Escalon hit 15 baskets from the floor and was 5-for-10 in free throws, with Bacay hitting the lone three-pointer for the Cougars. Harrison fouled out of the contest.

Friday at home, hosting Ripon, the Cougars were able to keep pace with the running Indians in the first half and the contest looked like it was shaping up to be a down-to-the-wire affair. But a huge third quarter run by the Indians took the air out of the Cougars, as they were forced to play from behind once again.

Mike Martinelli brought the crowd to its feet by hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the first quarter, giving Escalon an 18-12 lead. Ripon battled back and got the lead on a shot with just four seconds to go in the half, going up 28-27 at the end of the second quarter, scoring 16 points in that frame to Escalon's nine. The Indians made some adjustments and came out strong in the third quarter, putting the first five points on the board within a few seconds to go up 33-27 as they started to pull away.

"We were up for this game, we played pretty well and the guys left everything out there," Louro said of his team putting together a solid four quarter of play. "The difference was that it was much more physical, Ripon's a little bit better at that style of game, they took advantage of the refs letting the play go.

"We didn't back down, but we didn't really dish anything out."

Ripon's hustle and physical style of play eventually wore the Cougars down, the Indians using a huge 24-9 run in the third quarter to put some distance between the teams. Leading 52-36 after three quarters, the Indians scored 10 points to Escalon's five in the final quarter to take the win.

With 3:45 to play in the game, Ripon pulled all five starters and put in subs, a move that was followed by Escalon.

Ripon's subs didn't get any points on the board, leading 62-37 when they came in, but Escalon got a basket each by John Segale and Matt Blakeley to make the final 62-41.

Louro said the referees didn't slow the game by calling fouls, as the Cougars had just seven free throws on the night, all by Harrison, who went 6-for-7 from the line. Ripon went just nine times to the line, so neither team was called for many fouls.

"We didn't cower," Louro said of standing up to the physical Ripon players. "We're just not as strong as they are."

Harrison had 16 points on the night with 12 rebounds and three blocks, Bacay added nine points.

"It was a tough one for us," Louro admitted. "We felt it was one we could get."

Another tough Trans-Valley League match awaited the Cougars on Tuesday, after the Times went to press, as they were slated to host Modesto Christian. They will be on the road Thursday, Jan. 24 for a game at Ripon Christian and then host Riverbank in a Saturday game, Jan. 26 starting at 5 p.m.