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Varsity Girls Win One Of Three In TVL Play
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Kicking off Trans-Valley League play with a win, the going got tougher from there for Escalon's varsity girls. They dropped their next two games to go 1-2 in the first week of TVL action.

The Lady Cougars were winners on the road Monday, Jan. 10 at Riverbank, then lost a thriller in double overtime to Hughson at home on Thursday, Jan. 13. They traveled to Patterson for a Saturday afternoon game and lost there by 13 points.

Starting off the season on the road, the girls played at Riverbank in an emotion-filled contest, charged up by memories of last season's physical game that included a few punches being thrown by players. This time, Escalon used that emotion to their advantage and came away with a 47-39 victory.

"They (Riverbank) had a good outside shooting second quarter and we had our best third quarter effort of the year," noted coach Gary Ball.

Riverbank had 15 points in the second quarter, Escalon matched that total with 15 of their own in the third. Riverbank held a 21-19 halftime lead but the Lady Cougars came on strong with double digit scoring over the final two frames to take the win.

"Kacey (Ball) had seven of our 15 points in the third quarter," said the coach.

She also paced the team with 17 total points, followed by Sandi French with eight and Kelly Colin with seven.

"That was by far her best outing as a varsity player," Ball said of Colin's effort. "Then she got sick for two days and that hurt us. I tried to put her in against Hughson (on Thursday) but she just went white."

Riverbank kept battling in the contest and closed the gap a bit in the fourth quarter, making things a bit jittery for the visitors.

"Kat Tavares made a nice play to Kelly with a couple of minutes to go," Ball said of helping seal the win.

Lauren Brown and Alyssa Guzman each put in six points for Escalon in the win.

"I told our kids to just concentrate on their shots, we didn't really do anything different," Ball said, noting that it was nice to get that first TVL win under their belts in the first game.

Thursday, they were home to host Hughson in what turned out to be a marathon, double overtime contest. And while it went on the books as a loss, Ball said it was exactly the kind of game you want to play.

"Wow," he said. "It was a 62-60 loss in double overtime. They shot exceptionally well, we were down 12-3 before we blinked but we climbed back in it and we were leading at the half, it was a wonderful game."

Escalon also battled back in the first quarter, scoring 11 unanswered points as they took a 16-12 lead. Kacey Ball poured in 10 of her team's 16 first quarter points.

The teams were knotted at 50-50 at the end of regulation, 54-54 after one overtime. Hughson got one more bucket than Escalon in the double OT and took the win.

Jennifer Costa hit a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

"Other than the loss, it was a wonderful experience," noted Ball. "As a coach, it was wonderful, this really was a basketball game, we got to coach, the kids got to play."

Ball ended the night with 19 points, Brown put in 12, Costa and French each added eight.

"There was pressure, it was fun, it was a real roller coaster," said Ball.

Saturday, the girls tried to regroup for a road game at Patterson but struggled offensively and lost a 49-36 decision.

"We couldn't quite our offense going," admitted Ball. "We struggled a little bit."

Patterson jumped out to an early 15-6 lead and were up 23-16 at the half, keeping the Lady Cougars at bay.

"In the fourth quarter, we started fouling them, they went to the free throw line 12 times," added Ball. "The game at that point was inside of 10 points so we had to start fouling."

Defensively, the Lady Cougars put together a solid effort but the shooting touch just wasn't there.

"It was tough for us," Ball agreed.

Only scorer in double figures for Escalon was Kacey Ball with 12. Costa and Colin had six each.

"Lauren Brown was on their leading scorer and she did a good job, Stephanie Williamson is helping out a little bit more every time out on the floor," said Ball. "We knew the Hughson game would be tough, we knew Patterson would pressure us and for the most part, we did well, we just couldn't get a string of hoops together and they kept us six to eight points back for the whole game."

The girls will host Ripon Christian on Thursday, Jan. 20 and then play Hilmar at home on Monday, Jan. 24.