Vista places fifth at tournament with two wins in three games

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Matt von Tillow had a better weekend than he did the previous week.

His Vista del Lago basketball team won two-of-three games at the Folsom-Vista Tournament to finish in fifth place and improve the team’s record to 3-4 on the season.

“I absolutely feel good moving forward,” von Tillow said. “We’re coming off playing seven games in 10 days and now we’ve got three in the next two weeks so we have some practice time coming to us and we’re going to get better.”

The Eagles opened the tournament with a heart-breaking 77-76 overtime loss to Del Campo on Thursday. It was the team’s fourth loss in five games, as the only win came against Woodland on Dec. 4, 57-49.

“It was a very difficult loss,” von Tillow said. “It was an emotional game and we had lots of chances to win and we didn’t.”

Jake Duenkel led the Eagles with 13 points, while Ian MacLachlan scored 12 and Mehran Amin finished with 11.

Vista, badly in need of a win, got what they were looking for on Friday by defeating Center 60-38. The Eagles jumped out a 9-0 lead early in the first quarter on three, three-pointers by Drew McPherson in the first 88 seconds of the game. Oddly enough, it was all the points McPherson would score in the game.

 Center played the Eagles relatively even the rest of the half, as Vista outscored them 12-9. In the second half, however, the Eagles played their best basketball, particularly in the third quarter when they outscored the Cougars 20-7. Four players made baskets in the quarter and five scored; MacLachlan scoring seven of his 12 points. Duenkel added six points in the quarter.

“Our adjustment at half was to be more unselfish with the ball and that was key,” Duenkel said. “We also played good defense on their big men.”

Vista played good defense throughout the game, as they forced several turnovers off their press and many more in the half-court defense. Overall, Center committed 22 turnovers and made only 14 shots from the field.

“I see us getting better,” Duenkel said. “We need to improve in closing out games and learning how to win. We will get better.”

Von Tillow added, “Even though we got out to a decent lead, we weren’t playing that well. We were selfish and playing one-on-one and our shots were going in. As good as we played in the first quarter, we were equally as bad in the second. In the second half we kept the ball moving and in the first four minutes all five of our guys scored. We’re a lot tougher to defend when we play like that and it’s a lot more fun for the guys.”

Vista wrapped up the tournament Saturday with a win over league rival El Dorado, 62-54. Duenkel led the way with 21 and McPherson ended with 18. Patrick Reinking scored eight points, while Amin had seven.

Not only did the win give them a fifth-place finish, but it was also nice to beat a team they’ll face twice in league play.

“We came out flat, but we had a really good second quarter and controlled the game the rest of the way,” von Tillow said. “Jake was our only all-tournament selection. He held us together, stepped up his scoring and by getting others involved too.”

Vista del Lago plays at Nevada Union Wednesday before playing host to Folsom on Dec. 18. The team’s final game before Christmas is at Vacaville on Dec. 21.