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Vista improves to 4-0 with win over Liberty Ranch

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Make it four straight wins for the Sierra Valley Conference leading Vista del Lago boys’ basketball team. The Eagles’ most recent win, a 59-52 take against surprise challenger Liberty Ranch (1-3 SVC, 4-13), posted not only Vista’s fourth league win (4-0, 8-11), but five in a row and eight of its last 10 since beginning the season on a 10-game losing skid. Liberty Ranch however, didn’t make this most recent streak an easy one to obtain. Vista entered the contest having defeated Galt handily and Liberty Ranch coming off a 65-42 drought against El Dorado. After taking a 20-6 first quarter, holding the visitors to 0-of-7 from three-point and 2-of-6 from the field, Vista was outscored in both the second and third quarters. Liberty Ranch flipped a three-point switch from its first quarter woes and hit a combined 9-of-16 in the two middle quarters. A large lead dwindled to a one-point 41-40 margin entering the fourth quarter. The Eagles lost its lead twice in the third and once in the fourth. Vista then relied on its big man to pull his team to victory. Tyler Jones matched a season-high 19 points, seven coming in the fourth quarter. He turned a late one-possession game into a show of dominance in the paint. Liberty Ranch scored nine of its 12 fourth quarter points on three-pointers, making it a total 12-of-34 for most of the team’s points. It was the tale of how the game remained close, because inside against Jones, Liberty Ranch didn’t stand a chance. “It’s not only me, it was my teammates,” said Jones. “They focused on pounding the ball inside so much more that I was able to step up and be a part of the win.” Rebounding against a three-point shooting team can be a challenge for any big man, but Jones said he used those as opportunities to find his teammates on the perimeter. The Eagles successfully shot 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, including a perfect 4-for-4 in the first quarter. “Someone has to step up for us to get a win and I got that chance today,” added Jones. “We’re really confident and in a good position right now. We’re going to have to step it up, though.” Ian McLachlan scored 12 points, Patrick Lowman had 11 and both Drew McPherson and Jake Duenkel added six. Vista’s balanced scoring outdid a game-high 21 points from Liberty Ranch’s Michael Meserole, who for most of the game was the subject of Vista’s student-fan group taunting. So far this season the Eagles have done nothing but step up since the start of league. It’s hard to imagine a team which lost 10 games before winning its first would in the matter of less than a month, be unbeaten in its league and more than half of its league opponents in the dust. That’s exactly what coach Matt von Tillow had done. “It was good to know we can show up without playing our best game and still win,” said von Tillow. “That was [Jones’s] best game by far. He carried us the whole game. He’ll do anything when we need it and tonight we needed him to score. But being unbeaten doesn’t matter. Our goal is to win the whole league. Being in this position, though, now we can focus on one game at a time.” Union Mine (2-1, 13-5) will be the next SVC team to test Vista’s resolve. The game is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Vista.