FOLSOM — Defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion Sierra is one and done after its heartbreaking 61-60 loss at No. 7 Vista del Lago on Wednesday.
The 10th-seeded Timberwolves (16-11), who used a stifling defense to stake a 12-point lead in the middle of the second quarter, had to climb back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to give them a shot at advancing.
Sierra had an opportunity to extend a two-point lead at the free-throw line with 20 seconds remaining, but Daniel Wyatt (11 points) missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity. That opened the door for Luke Avdalovic and the Capital Athletic League champion Eagles (20-8) to squeak it out in the end.
With 9 seconds to go, Avdalovic (16 points) managed to drain an off-balanced, long-distance 3-pointer to give Vista del Lago the lead for good. Wyatt’s attempt to win it in the final seconds was off target, and Grant Lomelino secured the defensive rebound and the win for the Eagles.
Sierra senior forward Jess Spivey led all scorers with 27 points and scored 15 of the team’s 17 in the final period. Vista del Lago, outscored 17-2 for the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter, finished it out on a 7-0 run.
“We battled back and played a great fourth quarter,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “Spivey made a lot of great plays and we had opportunities. We played great defense, and in the end we had two guys all over Avdalovic on his deep 3 and he makes it. This one is going to hurt for a while.”
Thomason was most disappointed with Sierra’s inability to break it open earlier in the contest. The Timberwolves were ahead 30-18 at one point in the second quarter but led 34-29 by halftime. Vista del Lago carried the momentum into the third when it made five 3-pointers.
William Fitzpatrick added 14 points for the Eagles, while 6-foot-9 center Thomas Reinking and Grant Bellis each had 10. Vista del Lago next travels to Sacramento powerhouse Capital Christian on Friday. The No. 2-seeded Cougars held off No. 15 Patterson, 70-60.
“I’m proud of how the guys fought tonight,” Thomason said. “They got better as the season went on and we had a lot of good moments.”