Vista finishes up-and-down season with 65-57 win over El Dorado

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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After a 2-4 start in the first round of Sierra Valley Conference play, Vista del Lago’s boys’ basketball team needed a strong finish to make a push for the playoffs.

The Eagles improved in the second half of league, but not well enough to earn a playoff berth. Vista split its remaining six games in alternating loss-win fashion, capping off the season Tuesday with a 65-57 win over El Dorado on senior night.

“We had only beaten the bottom two teams in our league so we wanted to get a win against El Dorado to feel good about ourselves,” Vista coach Matt von Tillow said. “It was close at halftime (26-24) because we gave up too many offense rebounds and fouled too much. In the third quarter, we held them to seven points with two buckets from offensive rebounds and some free throws and that was the difference in the game.”

The Eagles outscored the Cougars  22-7 in the third quarter and took a 48-31 lead into the fourth quarter and despite allowing 26 points in the final eight minutes, still won the game by eight.

The senior class led the way on senior night, as Jake Duenkel scored 21 points, while Drew McPherson had 17, Ian MacLachlan finished with 10 and Mehran Amin chipped in seven.

The team’s previous win came six days earlier against Union Mine, as the Eagles came out on top, 64-62. Duenkel arguably had his best game of the season, leading the team with 26 points, including scoring the team’s last five points, the final two at the foul line with no time left on the clock to give his team the win.

Duenkel hit a three-pointer to tie the game in the final 20 seconds and then picked up a ball knocked loose by Amin and took it to the basket where he was fouled as the final buzzer sounded. With no time left on the clock, Duenkel knocked down both free throws to give the Eagles a two-point win.

Vista del Lago finished the year 5-7 in the Sierra Valley Conference and 12-15 overall.

“We played a tough preseason schedule and finished 7-8,” von Tillow said. “Ten of the 15 teams we played made the playoffs. I thought we had some confidence heading into league, but we weren’t consistent enough to pull through and finish games. In five games, we held a nine-point lead with less than four minutes to go and lost. I thought we had the talent to make the playoffs, but we just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”