The annual Pete Arellano Memorial Basketball Tournament, hosted at Escalon High School in cooperation with the sponsoring organization, Escalon Lions Club, played out this past week.
Games were hosted for both JV and varsity girls basketball, contests staged in the old and new gyms on the EHS campus.
By the time the varsity competition was over, it was a pair of Trans-Valley League teams at the top. Riverbank defeated Escalon in the championship game, the host Lady Cougars taking second place. Escalon’s Soleil Gouzenne and Macie Vickers were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Escalon came into the tournament with a 3-0-1 record, said head coach Joseph Dalpogetti, and won the recent Waterford Dennis Wallace Memorial Tournament.
Opening up play against Johansen on Wednesday, Dec. 1, the Escalon girls took an easy 71-38 win off the court. The first quarter was close, Escalon leading 13-12 after one frame, but they steadily pulled away after that, leading 29-20 at the half, and outscoring Johansen 42-18 over the final two periods.
Soleil Gouzenne and Macie Vickers paced the scoring attack with 18 points apiece, Yanely Gomez added 13.
“Our full court pressure finally wore them down in the second half and we just kept the pressure up and that led to some easy baskets,” said Dalpogetti.
Thursday, it was a contest against Millennium, which had defeated Amador on the first night to move on in the winner’s bracket.
It was a 57-41 win, Escalon again taking an early lead, going up 12-6 after one, 28-18 at the half.
“We were paced again by Soleil Gouzenne and Macie Vickers with 14 and 15, respectively. Marissa Silva added seven,” said Dalpogetti. “We opened up a 15-point lead in the third and Millennium was able to cut it to a single possession before we finished the game on another strong run.”
Friday, with the championship game moved to the afternoon so basketball players could travel to support the football team on the road in San Rafael, went in the books as a 60-41 loss to the sharp shooting Riverbank squad. The Lady Bruins ran out to a 19-8 lead in the first quarter on the way to the win and the tournament title.
“We came out incredibly flat and spotted them a 14-2 lead before we even knew the game had started,” admitted Dalpogetti. “We cut it to four in the third quarter but I think that run depleted us and they finished the game on a strong run.”
Vickers poured in 18 points in the loss while Rachel Farley chipped in with eight.
“My message to the team after the game was that we can’t spot good teams 12 points to open a game and expect to win,” said the coach. “It’s frustrating to lose your own championship game in that manner, but we got a look at a team we expect to be near the top, if not at the top, of the league. So we know what to expect next month when a competitive TVL kicks off.”
The Lady Cougars are sitting at 5-1-1 and now will have the opportunity for some much needed practice, Dalpogetti added.
“Counting the Foundation game (Nov. 29) we are 6-1-1 and have played eight games with only one practice sprinkled in the past two weeks,” he said.
Court action this week will see the varsity and JV girls host Tokay on Thursday, Dec. 9 with the JV tip off at 5:30 p.m., varsity at 7 p.m., along with getting in the practice they need.
With their games in the old gym on the EHS campus, it was a championship run for the junior varsity basketball girls. Head coach Sam Baez also did some coaching at the varsity level during the tournament, with Alexa Gomez helping her out with the JV games. The young Lady Cougars won all three games they played in the tournament, defeating Waterford in the opener, then battling to a thrilling, hard-fought slim win, 34-29, against a very tough and physical Bret Harte team on Thursday. In the Friday championship contest, they defeated Beyer by a 56-30 final to earn the title.