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Eagles slip by Trojans 43-41 to win SVC

By: Brett Ransford, Telegraph Correspondent
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Forget ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ Friday night’s Vista/Oak Ridge game was more like ‘Welcome to the Sauna’ at Oak Ridge High. The gym felt like a sauna packed shoulder to shoulder with fans, while others were forced to stand to watch the teams battle for the Sierra Valley Conference championships. It was the Eagles who walked away with a 43-41 victory, avenging an earlier loss to the Trojans and disrupting the team’s Senior Night as well. The Eagles (11-1 league, 25-2 overall) came in with that killer instinct necessary to pull out a win again the Trojans (9-3 league, 16-11 overall). Hayden Lescault led all scorers with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Through 22 turnovers, 3-of-10 from three-point and 14-of-25 from the foul line, the Eagles maintained a lead throughout the game. “Overall it was two teams that know each other very well and that ultimately meant it was going to come down to the wire,” said Vista coach Jeff Bridges. “We’re very happy to win the conference outright; it’s a big accomplishment for us. We’ll celebrate and find out where we’re going to be in playoffs and we have a second season to prepare for. We’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.” Fun, excitement, rivalry, nail biting are all words to describe an insane atmosphere in the game. Vista fans drowned out Oak Ridge fans on numerous plays and chants. At the end of the game police stepped in to separate Oak Ridge fans and Vista fans celebrating on center court. “I’m feeling great!” Lescault said. “This was the goal at the start of the season to win the league championship. I’m been thinking about the last game (against Oak Ridge) since it happened so it feels great to get revenge for that. We had a better game plan and knew what they were going to run and how to stop it. Now we have to work twice as hard going into playoffs. We want to see every team and show every team out there that we’re the real deal.” Other scorers for Vista were Marques White with 10 points, four rebounds and a block. Mike Young had five points and Demarcus Wishom had four. After a somber first half performance, Oak Ridge began the third on a 7-0 run before ending the quarter allowing Vista only eight points for the second quarter in a row. With the game on the line, though, with less than a minute to play, the Trojans had the game slip away in just a few plays. It all came down to a fade away jumper missed by point guard Matt Mendoza on an inbound screen with 3.9 seconds left. With 20 seconds to play, Vista’s Mike Young made one of two free throws to tie the game and White then drained a pair of free throws to put Vista up 43-41, setting up Mendoza’s final shot to tie the game and send it to overtime. Demarcus Wishom was in Mendoza’s face, pushing him away from the basket for a tough shot and that was the game. “That’s two years in a row we’ve lost the championship to Vista,” said Trojan coach Bob Christensen. “Maybe we we’re playing not to lose instead of playing to win at some points. The first half we came out really emotional on Senior Night, for the championship and against a rival. It’s painful, especially for the seniors. Hopefully we get a home game in the playoffs and approach it like every other game and practice; play a quarter at a time.” Will Findlay and Connor Benander led the Trojans with nine points apiece. Findlay added three rebounds and two blocks against consistent double and triple teams. Benander also had five rebounds, two assists and a block. Mendoza finished at eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Bryce Scott also had eight points with two rebounds and a huge steal in the fourth quarter.