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After two straight losses, Eagles need a win Friday

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Vista del Lago has turned their season around once already and now they’ve got to do it again. After winning their first five Sierra Valley Conference games, the Eagles have lost two straight and are now tied for first place with a 5-2 record with El Dorado and the team they face on the road Friday, Cosumnes Oaks. In the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 10 at Vista, the Eagles won 63-62. To beat the Wolfpack, the Eagles will have to play better than they did last week when they dropped a pair of games to El Dorado on Friday, 61-52, and River City on Jan. 24, 61-60. “We need to find a way to get into rhythm offensively and give a better rebounding effort,” Vista coach Matt von Tillow said. “We need to get back to the basics. We’re still in first place. We beat them once, now we have to beat them on the road.” Patrick Lowman, Vista’s leading scorer, added, “They’re a good team. We have to come out with energy and play hard.” Last Friday it was the Cougars who played like the home team, outworking and outhustling the Eagles. The Cougars dominated the boards and several offensive rebounds turned into points and were one reason why they outscored the Eagles by nine. “They came out with more energy,” said Lowman, who led the team with 21 points, 19 coming in the second half. “They beat us on the offensive boards — both ends of the floor really — and just brought it tonight and we didn’t.” Except for a brief 3-3 tie, the Cougars led the entire game, as Vista trailed by three-to-four baskets most of the way. El Dorado led 14-5 after five minutes of play, but Vista went on a 5-1 run late to cut the lead to four, 15-11, after the first quarter. Too much of the Eagles’ offense relied on the three-point shot. The Eagles only made six baskets in the first half and four were from downtown, two apiece from Jake Duenkel and Drew McPherson. They struggled to find better shots, as the Cougars defense kept them at bay. “Credit El Dorado,” von Tillow said. “They played a trapping zone out to a high area of the floor and we weren’t prepared for that and it just took us out of rhythm on offense.” Vista made 14 field goals in the game, seven from three-point range, to go along with 17 free throws. Lowman scored 21 points to lead the team, while Duenkel finished with 11 and Drew McPherson scored 10. El Dorado came at the Eagles from all over, as Ben Thomas scored 16, 11 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Cougars. Justin Morrison scored 14, while Joe Visman and Daniel Vance finished with 13 each. In the loss to River City, the Eagles played a lot like they did on Friday. “It was similar to El Dorado in that we just got beat on the offensive glass and got out-hustled,” Lowman said. “We didn’t show up with any effort,” von Tillow said. “We beat them by 27 before and I think we overlooked them and you just can’t do that.”