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Varsity Hoop Boys Fall Short Against Hilmar
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Playing well early and taking a lead, Escalon's varsity basketball boys were not able to hold it against the host Yellowjackets, losing to Hilmar on Tuesday, Dec. 23 by a 66-52 margin.

On the road, the Cougars raced out to a 17-9 lead after one quarter.

"It was actually a pretty darn good game," coach Martin Louro said. "In the first quarter they manned us and in the second quarter they switched to a zone. The zone has kind of killed us all season."

Having trouble with the zone defense, Escalon was limited to just seven second quarter points while Hilmar countered with 15 to knot the score at 24-all headed into halftime.

"We have not shot well in zone," admitted Louro. "They came out in the third quarter and outscored us 24-9, they put it to us, that was the difference."

Leading 48-33 after three, Hilmar used the cushion to their advantage, taking the win.

"We battled back, cut it to nine at one point and shot the ball better to start the fourth quarter," Louro said. "We hit three 3's to start the fourth, they came out of the zone and we outscored them 19-18 in the fourth quarter."

Raymond David hit a pair of 3's in the fourth and Spencer Murray added the third to get the varsity Cougars within striking distance.

The varsity boys had six 3-pointers on the night, three from David and one each from Murray, Vince Aufdermaur and Doyle Niu.

"We had a poor performance from the line again," the coach noted of missing out on free throw opportunities.

Escalon's score by quarters was 17, 7, 9, 19 and Hilmar went 9, 15, 24, 18.

"Raymond David put in 11 points for us off the bench," Louro said of the leading scorer for the game.

Doyle Niu had nine, Spencer Murray and Vince Aufdermaur each had seven points in the loss. Also scoring for the Cougars were Leighton Pangilinan and Justin Gutierrez, five points apiece; Brandon Shaw, four; Robbie Leal and Justin Machado, two points each.

The Cougars are practicing every day this week, looking ahead to a Friday night game with Manteca, Jan. 2.

"We'll be working on some things," Louro said of getting in several practices. "Against Manteca, we're looking for a good showing."

The varsity boys also start the crossover games with the Mother Lode League teams on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at Amador. Trans-Valley League play opens at home on Tuesday, Jan. 20 against Modesto Christian.

The JV boys lost on the road to Hilmar on Tuesday, while the freshmen came away with a victory. All three squads will play Manteca on Friday night at home, starting with the frosh squad at 4:30 p.m.

The JV team, which was slated to play in the Merced Tournament between Christmas and New Year, takes the court at 6 p.m. and varsity action caps the evening on Friday with tip off at 7:30 p.m.