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Vista inches closer to playoff berth

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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After slipping from 13th to 16th in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings, from which the playoff brackets are drawn, Vista del Lago’s varsity boys’ basketball team picked up two much-needed wins last week over Galt and Liberty Ranch. With back-to-back wins under their belt, the Eagles, 7-3 in the Sierra Valley Conference and 11-14 overall, have some good vibes heading into their final two home games of the season, tonight against Union Mine and on Friday versus River City. “At 16th in the power ratings, we knew we should win the rest of our games, make the playoffs and have a successful season,” Vista coach Matt von Tillow said. Beating Union Mine and River City is possible, as they’ve split two games with River City this season and already defeated Union Mine on the road on Jan. 20, but it won’t be easy. Nothing’s come easy for the Eagles this season, as even most of their wins have come down to the wire. In the 61-59 victory over the Diamondbacks, Vista won it at the buzzer on a tip-in by senior Ryan Rodriguez. Against River City on Dec. 29, Vista won convincingly by 28 points, 75-47, and then lost to them a month later, 61-60. “Union Mine shut down our scorers and then they had a guy score 24 on us and make six or seven three-pointers,” von Tillow said. “We’re going to key on him this time and see what happens. If we have the same defensive effort that we had against Liberty Ranch, we should be able to compete. If we beat Union Mine, then that makes River City a very important game and with it being senior night, I expect a lot better effort than we had last time against them.” Last Wednesday against Galt, Patrick Lowman scored 19 points to lead the team to a 69-53 win. Jake Duenkel finished with 10 points, while Jeff Reinking scored nine and Drew McPherson and Jake Mathues scored eight. “We didn’t play great, but we were still able to win the game,” von Tillow said. “We couldn’t get into any rhythm offensively and didn’t do things that we normally do well.” Lowman and Duenkel were at it again on Friday, leading the way with 18 and 14 points, respectively. McPherson scored eight, while Reinking and Tyler Jones finished with six points. It was the team’s defense, however, that made a big difference. The Eagles held Liberty Ranch to single digits in the first two quarters, taking a 12-point lead into halftime. “It was our best defensive game of the season,” von Tillow said “We played hard and to their credit, Liberty Ranch scored a lot of points of contested shots.” After hosting Union Mine tonight, Vista will recognize their seniors, Lowman, Jones and Rodriguez, on Friday before playing host to River City in its final regular season game.