Not over yet

Eagles host Nor-Cal playoff game Thursday
By: Matt Long
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Though disappointed after losing to the section championship game to Sacramento on Friday night, Vista del Lago’s varsity boys’ basketball team knew their season wasn’t over. The Eagles had qualified for the Northern California playoffs and after all, a chance to win a Nor-Cal title or State title is indeed a bigger accomplishment than winning a section title. After the playoff brackets were released on Sunday, the Eagles realize that they’ve got a good chance to get back to Arco Arena for the Nor-Cal championship game on March 20. Vista del Lago is the fourth-seed in the 12-team bracket, and opens the Nor-Cal playoffs at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Eagles’ Nest against either fifth-seeded Sacred Heart Cathedral or 12-seeded El Cerrito. The fact that the Eagles have a home game is an exciting prospect. Vista del Lago’s has a rowdy group of loyal supporters, as witnessed during Friday night’s game at Arco Arena, when the student body filled up nearly four sections of the arena’s lower bowl. “We’re glad we got a bye and we sure are happy to have another home game,” Vista del Lago coach Jeff Bridges said. “I think it all worked out good for us. It was unbelievable how many showed up on Friday night and we need to make sure they know that we’re not done. They give us a great home-court advantage and a tough atmosphere for opposing teams.” Sure, the team was disappointed after the 65-55 loss the Sac High, but Bridges said they would be excited to have another home game. “Every game will be a challenge, but we’ve got a chance to keep going and I’m sure the team will be excited about that,” Bridges said. “Like we talked about on Friday, there’s a bigger prize out there.” Sacramento 65, Vista 55 The smaller, scrappier Vista del Lago Eagles gave Sac High all they wanted, but in the end the Dragons pulled away to win the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section championship game on Friday at Arco Arena. In an evenly played game, the difference came at the free throw line, where the Dragons made 31-of-40 free throws, a 77 percent clip, while the Eagles made only 10 of their 20 attempts. “We didn’t shoot the ball well and we probably fouled too much,” Bridges said. “The guys are disappointed. Being here wasn’t enough. They wanted to win and felt that they should have won.” In the end, it was the easy shots that hurt the Eagles. Not only did they miss half of their free throws, but also several layups. “If we make more free throws and our layups it’s a different game but we didn’t,” Vista senior forward Demarcus Wishom said. “We didn’t make the plays that we needed to make. We didn’t execute so we didn’t win.” The Eagles trailed for most of the game, but refused to let Sacramento pull away. They trailed by nine, 49-40, with six minutes to play but went on an 11-5 run to cut the lead three with 1:37 to play. Hayden Lescault, who had no points at halftime, scored six points during the run, while Wishom and Marques White added baskets and Jaqyai Wiley knocked down a free throw. But the remainder of the game would go Sacramento’s way, as it outscored the Eagles 11-4. Spencer Hatten made a big steal and the Eagles were in good position to cut the lead to one or potentially tie the game, but Wishom’s layup was off the mark. Sac High got the rebound and at the other end, 6’11” Robert Garrett scored his only points of the game when he knocked down a pair of free throws. White then missed a jumper with 1:20 left and the Dragons again capitalized at the line as Will Davis knocked down a pair and the deficit that Vista worked so hard to cut down to three was again back up at seven, 58-51. After White converted two free throws, Wishom made a steal and Vista had a chance to cut into the five-point lead, but on a loose ball players from both teams grabbed it and the possession arrow pointed in Sac High’s direction. Two more free throws by Davis put Sacramento up 60-53 with 35.8 to play and they made their free throws down the stretch to extend the lead in a game that was a bit closer than the final score indicates. “We battled and it was a competitive game,” Bridges said. “They’re good and we have a lot of respect for them, but to be honest, us losing had more to do with our errors. If we would have made more free throws and layups it would have been a different game.” Lescault scored all 17 of his points in the second half and led the team in scoring. White ended the game with 12 points, while Hatten scored nine. Wishom finished with eight points, while Wiley scored seven. Vista 69, Center 66 In a game for the ages, Vista del Lago boys’ basketball team scored a dramatic 69-66 triple overtime victory over Center on Wednesday night at Cosumnes River College. Lescault scored 31 points to lead the Eagles to victory, three of which came at the end of regulation play to send the game into overtime. Balanced Eagle scoring followed with Wiley scoring 10, Wishom adding nine, followed by Young and White with eight and seven points, respectively. “It was a heavyweight battle against a great opponent,” Bridges said. “All the work we put in the whole season was on the line,” Lescault said.” In the third overtime, Young made a leaning shot with 2:11 left, giving the Eagles the lead for the last time, 67-65. The Cougars made a free throw to cut the lead to one with 40.4 seconds left. Center was then fouled with only 5.9 seconds left, but after missing both free throws, the Cougars regained possession of the ball with 4.3 to play. The Cougars, however, turned over the ball on a travel call with only 0.5 seconds left. Lescault then iced the win with two free throws on a technical foul against Center. Vista held a semi-comfortable 43-37 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Cougars went on an 8-0 run to take a 45-43 lead with 1:12 to play. With Center leading 49-46, Lescault drained a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to force the first overtime, 49-49. “You practice that shot since you were a little kid,” said Lescault. In the first overtime, Lescault hit a pair of free throws with 10.3 seconds remaining, putting Vista up 56-53, but this time it was Center who converted the desperation 3-pointer to tie the game at 56 and send the game to a second overtime. In the second extra session, Center led 63-61 with 20.8 seconds left. After a timeout, Lescault tied the game 63-63 with a driving basket to force the third overtime. Herb Barrows contributed to this story.