Escalon tops Atwater in tourney semi

All-city championship not in cards after costly mistakes

slynch@mercedsun-star.comDecember 7, 2012 

ATWATER -- Atwater High's boys basketball team got the ball where it wanted it.

With 14.6 seconds to go and the Falcons trailing by 1 against Escalon in the semifinals of the Save Mart Classic, head coach Tony Hillyer drew up a play for his big man.

The Falcons swung the ball around the perimeter, fighting through the Cougars' pressure, until there was an opening for center Ben Peterson in the post.

But Escalon was ready.

As soon as the pass came in, two players swarmed Peterson. Brian Gregori made it a difficult catch, while Phillip Kimble came over the top and ripped the ball out of Peterson's hands.

Alec Von Alvensleben nailed a pair of free throws with 1.8 seconds left and Escalon held on for a 59-56 victory.

The Cougars will face Buhach Colony in today's championship game. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m at the Thunder Dome. Atwater will play Gregori in the consolation game at The Nest. That start is also scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

"I'm just really disappointed because I wanted the first ever all-Atwater final," Falcons coach Tony Hillyer said. "Turnovers killed us. And they didn't have to. We got a great steal when we had the lead. They would have had to foul us and we could have finished it at the line.

"Instead we force something we didn't have to and all of a sudden they get the lead back."

Atwater (6-3) fought back from a 10-point halftime deficit.

Escalon (2-2) was on fire from beyond the arc in the first half, draining seven 3s. Von Alvensleben led the way with four en route to 16 of his game-high 21 points.

Anthony De la Hoya led the Falcon comeback, scoring eight of his 13 points in the third quarter.

De la Hoya's layup with 6:55 to play finally pulled the Falcons even at 43-43.

Josh Heller (seven points, 10 rebounds) gave Atwater its first lead with a layup off a Josh DeLeon steal with 3:33 to play.

A Daniel Motz 3-pointer helped push the lead to 5, but Escalon countered.

Brian Gregori had nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a layup with 1:03 left that gave Escalon a 57-56 lead.

With Atwater point guard Hector Rodriguez on the bench after rolling his ankle on the final play of the third quarter, the Falcons got sloppy.

They turned the ball over on their last three possessions of the game, never getting off a shot in the final minute.

Peterson led Atwater with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service