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Eagles overcome slow start to top Antelope; reach title game of Gold Dust Tournament

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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A slow start Friday night could have turned into disaster for Vista del Lago’s varsity boys’ basketball team.

Facing Antelope in the second round of the Gold Dust Tournament at Union Mine High School, Vista came out flat and promptly fell behind the Titans, 17-5, five minutes into the game. Coach Tim Weir replaced his starters with Austin Shouse, Owen Avdalovic, Kyle Herbers, Andrew Rexford, and Daniel Stiver and together the group stopped the bleeding, as the Eagles cut the deficit to 17-10 by the end of the quarter. Rexford hit a three, and Daniel Stiver followed with a pair of free throws.

“Our effort wasn’t there early, and we just weren’t paying attention to detail,” Weir said. “I know what I have on the bench. Those guys are hungry, and they want to play. We’ve got a lot of balance.”

Earlier in the second quarter, Shouse knocked down a bucket and Avdalovic drained a three to bring the Eagles within two points. With the starters back in, Taylor Ignacio’s three put the Eagles briefly in front, 18-17.

Ignacio, one of six Eagles to score in the quarter, had seven points, as the team outscored the Titans 18-9 and led by two points at halftime, 28-26.

The third quarter was back-and-forth for the first six minutes, as the game was tied at 39 with 2:11 to play. Shouse gave the Eagles the lead for good with a basket; Miguel Guia knocked down a pair of free throws, and Avdalovic ended the quarter with a three-point play to put the Eagles in front 46-39, and Antelope never got any closer to the lead in the fourth quarter.

Pierce Rexford led the Eagles with 16 points, while Ignacio followed with 13. Four other players scored at least six points, as Arnav Menon and Guia scored eight, and Avdalovic and Brendan Conneely each scored six.

“I’ve told this team that they’re not far from being a really good team, but we’ve got to start doing the little things,” Weir said. “We’ve got to pay attention to detail and do the little things. After that slow start, we started to play defense better, and we did a better job rebounding in the second half.”

The Eagles will play in the finals of the Gold Dust Tournament at 8 p.m. Saturday at El Dorado High School against either the host Cougars or Carson.