Vista girls hang on to beat Liberty Ranch, 46-41

By: by Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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The girls’ basketball team from Vista del Lago improved to 4-1 in the Sierra Valley Conference on Friday night with a gritty 46-41 victory over the visiting Liberty Ranch Lady Hawks at the Eagle’s Nest.

The Vista backcourt of Kendall Moore and Stephanie Clawson led the Lady Eagles in the second half. Clawson became more aggressive in attacking the basket and Moore’s defensive efforts rewarded her with opportunities on the offensive end.

With about four minutes to go in the game, Moore blocked a three-point attempt from Liberty’s Madeline Lopes and then broke toward the other end where Caprina Pipion, who ended up with the loose ball, led Moore for the game-tying layup. Moore drove past defenders for another lay-in on the next possession to give Vista a 42-40 lead.

After Clawson split defenders in the lane for a runner that made it 44-40 Vista, a pair of Ezenia Coleman free throws in the final minute closed out the victory for the Lady Eagles, who moved to 11-9 overall.

“Tonight we came out with energy from the start. We came out with an even better second half,” said Vista head coach Marty Benjamin. “I knew if we cleaned up our turnovers, we’d be fine in the second half. We cut down on the turnovers and kept playing hard and had enough to pull the win out.”

It was a close game throughout the length of the contest despite the Lady Eagles committing eight first-quarter turnovers. From the three-minute mark of the first quarter to the four-minute point of the second, the Lady Eagles held Liberty Ranch without a field goal while going on a 14-1 run.

The Lady Hawks were led by a sharp-shooting Selena Moore, who had 19 points, seven rebounds and six steals. Most of Moore’s buckets either tied the game or gave Liberty Ranch the lead, including a spinning drive through traffic that gave the Lady Hawks a two-point lead before halftime.

Kendall Moore finished with a team-high 13 points while adding seven rebounds and four steals. With starting center Becca Stephens away from the team for personal reasons, Clawson provided 10 points and Pipion grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Lady Eagles.

“We needed this win to have a shot at league. I think this win is going to bring this team together for our chemistry. We, as a staff, could see that they cared tonight,” said Benjamin, whose team is alone in second place now in the SVC. Vista will host first place River City next week on Thursday night.

“(River City) is going to run what makes them successful. I think with a couple of good practices, we’ll be ready for them.”