By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Varsity Cougars Fall To Central Catholic In Playoffs
Placeholder Image
Trailing early but rebounding with a strong third quarter, Escalon's varsity basketball boys ultimately fell just short - 50-47 - and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Central Catholic.

Hosting the Raiders in Wednesday night action, the squad had some trouble getting their game on track in the first half, trailing the visitors by a 13-11 margin in the first quarter, 27-21 at the half.

"We just talked about playing defense," head coach Mike Backovich explained of what the squad discussed at halftime. "In the third quarter we did some rebounding and hit some shots."

Escalon doubled its score in that eight-minute time period, pouring in 21 points and taking the lead, 42-39 by the end of the frame.

Down at the half, the Cougars came back with a vengeance and chipped away at the Central lead. A basket by Marcus Savage, followed by a free throw when he was fouled on the shot, got the host team even at 35-35 and the next bucket by Steve Gentry put them up, 37-35, with 2:18 to go in the third.

The loud crowd was even louder then, cheering the Cougars on as they appeared poised to take control of the game.

"In the fourth quarter, we had plenty of looks, they just didn't fall," noted Backovich.

After the tremendous surge in the third quarter, the Cougars were limited to just five points in the final frame, while Central Catholic scored 11 and put the game away.

"They got the second and third shots, they had good size," Backovich explained of the Raiders. "All game long, they'd throw it up, get the rebound and put it back in for the basket."

The host Cougars got outmuscled underneath, Central pulling down the majority of rebounds and using their height to their advantage to get those putbacks for the points.

"That didn't mean the kids didn't play work, didn't work hard," said Backovich, noting that his team battled to the end.

Central had a pair of free throws with eight seconds to go, the player hitting one of two to give them a 3-point lead. Escalon brought the ball up the court, setting up for the potential game-tying 3-pointer but again, the shot didn't fall. Passing the ball around the perimeter and looking for the open shot, Savage sent up the desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer but it was wide right and the Raiders had the win.

"Our kids worked really hard and we finished second in league, that says a lot," Backovich said.

The Cougars ended the campaign at 8-6 in Trans-Valley League, second to champion Ripon. The Indians were 13-1, their only league loss to Escalon. Overall, the Cougars went 14-10 on the season. They had one player selected for first team All-League honors, Marc Backovich, with Grant Goedhart and Steve Gentry receiving Honorable Mention.

"Mike Groves (assistant coach) and I walked away from that league meeting disappointed," Backovich said. "You take second in league you expect to have more than one player on the All League team."

Backovich said it was discouraging because he felt the squad, with only two players at six feet or over, played hard throughout the season and deserved more recognition.

"We can't vote for our own kids," he pointed out. "It's the other coaches in the league that control your destiny and I felt some other people on our team were deserving of it (all-league selection) also."