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Vista falls at home to El Dorado, 61-52

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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Vista del Lago opened Sierra Valley Conference play on Jan. 3 with a big win on the road at El Dorado. The Cougars returned the favor Friday night, beating the Eagles, 61-52. After winning their first five league games, the Eagles have dropped two straight and are now 5-2 in league play and 9-13 overall. On Friday the Cougars (5-2, 12-8) 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 Vista’s Patrick 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,” Vista coach Matt 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.