Vista's offense too much for Diamondbacks in 71-56 win

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Having lost five of their last six games, Vista del Lago’s varsity boys’ basketball team was in need of a win and got one Thursday.

A 46-point second half lifted the Eagles to a 71-56 win over Union Mine, as Vista evened its record in the Sierra Valley Conference to 2-2 and is now 9-10 on the season.

Having lost to conference-leading Liberty Ranch (4-0, 14-5) Tuesday, 65-60, the Eagles played host to the Diamondbacks, one of the teams near the bottom of the league with a 0-4 record in the conference and a 9-10 mark overall.

The Eagles led the entire game, but weren’t able to put the pesky Diamondbacks away until the fourth quarter. Union Mine was down by only five points with 2:30 to play in the third quarter, 43-38, but back-to-back three-pointers by sophomore Josiah Caler gave the team a momentum boost and Vista led by eight after three quarters, 49-41.

Vista followed up 24-point quarter with a 22 more in the fourth, starting with a 10-2 run over the first 3:34 to put the game away, as Vista led 59-43. Unselfish play and good ball movement were keys to the win, as the Eagles posted a team-high 15 assists, a majority of which came in the second half.

In the 10-2 run, five players contributed points, starting with Caler’s steal and layup to start the quarter, his seventh and eighth straight points for the team. After a Diamondback basket, Patrick Reinking scored inside and Mehran Amin followed with a three-point play that put the Eagles up 56-43. Ian MacLachlan knocked down a free throw and Domonic Sheehan then hit two more to end the run, as Vista held a 16-point lead.

“Our ball movement in the second half was fantastic,” Vista coach Matt von Tillow said. “We were crisp on offense and just really smooth and were making good passes. Ian and Josiah did a good job off the bench, stepping up and making good passes.”

Von Tillow also praised Caler for his all-around play.

“He’s been a sparkplug since we got him at the end of the semester,” he said. “He plays with confidence and he takes care of the basketball.”

The unselfish play from the Eagles led to a balanced scoring attack. Jake Duenkel led the team with 19 points, 13 coming in the first half. Caler had all 15 of his points in the second half. Drew McPherson finished with 10, including two alley-oop dunks that charged up the home crowd. Amin scored seven points, while MacLachlan and George Uribe both chipped in six.

“We needed that win,” von Tillow said. “Our previous four games were pretty difficult. We had a frustrating loss to Liberty Ranch and got blown out by some teams that I thought we could play with (Lincoln, Cosumnes Oaks). We’ve got to be more consistent.”

Vista plays host to River City (3-1, 11-7) Monday before heading up to El Dorado (2-3, 6-13) Wednesday.

“If we start thinking of the playoffs now we’re not going to make it,” von Tillow said. “We need to get back to it and focus on one game at a time. If we do that, I think we’ll make the playoffs.”