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Varsity Girls Struggling In League Campaign
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It just doesn't get any easier for the varsity Lady Cougars basketball team.

The squad hosted Patterson and lost to the Tigers on Monday, then took to the road and lost an overtime decision at Riverbank on Thursday.

"Steve and I were optimistic about what this team could do," head coach Gary Ball said of he and assistant coach Steve French as they worked with the team in preseason. "But I don't know whether it is because of the youth (four players brought up from the JV squad) or whether we just read it wrong, it didn't work out as hoped."

Against Patterson, the girls lost a 50-37 decision. They kept it close through the first three quarters, said Ball, trailing just 33-32 going into the final frame. But the Lady Cougars could put just five points on the board in the fourth quarter, while Patterson rolled up 17 points to put the game away.

"It was a close fight, Patterson is just better than we are right now," Ball said.

Two players did hit double figures for the varsity girls, Sandi French with 10 points and Kacey Ball with 10 as well. Missy Cullum chipped in with seven.

Thursday at Riverbank, the teams battled to a 36-36 tie in regulation, the host Lady Bruins taking the edge in the overtime period, outscoring Escalon 8-2 for a 44-38 win.

"Their constant pressure made us make mistakes," explained Ball.

The game featured a fair share of 'trash talking' and even a punch thrown, with a Riverbank player ejected from the game in the third quarter.

"There was a lot of talk going on all night," agreed Ball. "You'll see pushing and shoving at games but rarely punches thrown."

The varsity game followed an overtime JV affair, so both contests were tension-filled and decided in the closing moments.

"I don't usually say too much about officiating but we went to the line four times, they went 33," Ball said, concerned about the disparity in fouls. "Our big girls got into foul trouble."

Riverbank got 16 points on its free throws while Escalon did not convert on any of its four chances.

"If you're going to be a good team, you have to go into places like Riverbank and find a way to win," Ball said. "We have trouble finishing."

The girls were scheduled to host Hughson on Tuesday night, after The Times went to press, and will be at Ripon for a Thursday night game at 8 p.m.

"I've said it before, but this is a week where we can win two games, we should be able to beat both of these teams," said Ball.