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Varsity Hoop Boys Grab Road Win In Summerville
Escalon earned a split of its varsity boys basketball games this week, but it didn't break down the way head coach Martin Louro anticipated.

"If someone were to tell me we would go 1-1 this week, if I had to guess, I would have expected us to get Linden," he said, noting the Cougars were matched up with the Lions from Linden and the Bears out of Summerville. They closed out the preseason with the crossover games against the Mother Lode League teams.

Linden came in to Escalon and took an easy victory off the court on Tuesday night, Jan. 13, while the Cougars made the trip to Summerville and pulled off a thrilling win against the Bears on Friday, Jan. 16.

"We came out and played very lethargic," Louro said of Tuesday's game, which went into the loss column by a very lopsided 62-30 final. "We just didn't play well against Linden and lost by 32 points. Part of that was that our shots wouldn't fall, it almost seemed like there was a lid on the basket."

The missed shots meant increased anxiety and a sense of urgency in getting the ball to the hoop, but that just compounded the problem, said Louro.

"The more shots you miss, the more uptight you get, the harder it is to get one to fall," the coach explained. "Things just didn't go well."

Linden roared out to a 20-5 lead after one quarter and were up 32-14 at the half. The Lions maintained the solid lead with a 19-8 scoring edge in the third period and were a few points better than Escalon, 11-8, in the fourth.

Louro said Linden played a good game, but is a team that Escalon could beat; they just didn't have a good night.

"For the first time this season, Doyle Niu was shut out," the coach noted, adding that the same fate befell Raymond David, who has come off the bench strong all season long to spark the team.

"Those two guys, Doyle and Raymond, usually account for about 30 points between them and they were both shut out," Louro said.

Leading Escalon were Justin Gutierrez with eight points and Phil Quiroz with six, while Travis Cardoza and Leighton Pangilinan both had four.

Justin Machado went down with a knee injury early in the game and will miss another week or so with a severe strain, said Louro.

"We just got hammered on the boards," added the coach. "Most of their points came inside."

Friday night, the boys gained some confidence with the trip to Summerville, holding off the Bears by a 56-53 decision to end the preseason campaign on a winning note.

"They played their hearts out," explained Louro. "Our motto, kind of my mantra for this season, is maximum effort, every night."

The Cougars gave that maximum effort on Friday and it paid off with the win.

"We're not talented enough to just show up and win," Louro added. "We have to show up, play as a team, give maximum effort ... when we do that, we're pretty good."

There were several good things that came out of the Friday road game, from winning a close one away from home to gaining some confidence and closing out the contest at the end.

"That fact that it was a 3-point win was even more impressive," said Louro. "We were tied at the half, tied after three, but we beat them in the fourth quarter and that's a big step for us."

Escalon had an 18-12 lead after one quarter, the teams were tied at 29 at the break. It was 41-41 after three quarters and the Cougars scored 15 points in the fourth to Summerville's 12 for the 3-point margin of victory.

"It was a good, balanced effort," Louro said.

Leighton Pangilinan had his best game of the season with 14 points, Niu and Cardoza added nine each and Gutierrez put in eight. Eight points also came from Brandon Shaw, but the sophomore also had a breakout night of his own.

"With the loss of Justin (Machado) he was forced into the point guard role and he had his best game of the season," Louro said. "He was able to take care of the ball, he really stepped up as a sophomore and took that step forward, ran the team well, took control of the floor, hopefully that continues."

Shaw added seven rebounds along with his eight points for an outstanding all around effort.

Closing out with the win, the Cougars compiled a 5-12 mark during the course of a very tough preseason.

"They did a lot of learning," Louro said of scheduling tough teams. "Hopefully that carries over into league."

The Cougars were slated to open up with one of the toughest teams in the Trans-Valley League, hosting Modesto Christian on Tuesday, Jan. 20 after The Times went to press. Then they go on the road for a pair, playing at Ripon Christian on Friday, Jan. 23 and at Riverbank on Tuesday, Jan. 27 before being back on the home court for Winter Homecoming on Friday, Jan. 30 against Hughson.

"I'm almost happy we've got them first," Louro said of Modesto Christian. "Regardless of how it goes, we'll get it out of the way, then we have three very winnable games in a row."