Matt Smith All-Tourney selection
EL DORADO HILLS — Connor Zari’s go-ahead basket with 47 seconds left in overtime and two subsequent Bella Vista free throws lifted the Broncos past El Dorado 74-71 for seventh place at the Trojan Toss-Up Saturday afternoon.
Bella Vista withstood Tommy Williams’ three-point attempt that drew iron as the horn sounded. The Cougars went 0-3 over the weekend — falling to Davis 78-59 Thursday and Rio Americano 51-46 Friday.
“We just didn’t execute in several areas and that’s on me,” El Dorado coach Conrad Dizon said. “We played bigger schools (this weekend) and had just one bad quarter (in three games). We were a little rusty but the team fought hard and we’ll fix things in practice.”
Against the Broncos, El Dorado went scoreless for the final two minutes after grabbing the lead on Williams’ pull-up. The Cougars had several great looks in close but failed to convert.
“It was really that close,” said El Dorado’s Matt Smith, the Cougar’s All-Tournament pick after his 27-point, 13-rebound performance. “We played hard but couldn’t finish at the end. It’s a tough loss … we really wanted it … but it just didn’t go in our favor.”
Aaron Line’s full-court drive as time dwindled and lean-in off the glass tied the game at 66-66 with two seconds left in regulation. Ian Spencer’s baseline runner and Smith’s free throw had the Cougars up three in overtime before Steven Bush’s back-to-back jumpers returned the lead back to Bella Vista.
Williams, whose late defensive steals were key in forcing overtime, drained his jumper as did Zari to win it.
El Dorado weathered the Bronco’s hot start as Smith, Spencer and Casey Nyquist sank threes in a 20-point first quarter. Early in the second, the Cougars trailed by five but 3-point plays from Smith and Line put the Placerville team ahead. Smith, Line (18 points) and Williams (14) combined for 59 of El Dorado’s 71 points.
Line’s follow, Smith’s foul line take for two and his jumper, Line’s free throw and his baseline shot put the Cougars up 37-32 at the half.
Saturday’s game had eight ties and 22 lead changes.
The Cougars ran isolation plays against Bella Vista’s man defense in the first half. In the second, the Broncos zone slowed El Dorado but the Cougars stayed close as Smith and Williams hit treys and Line’s follow at the buzzer gave his team a 49-48 lead going to the fourth.
The next eight minutes went back-and-forth. Smith tied it with a corner three, Line did too with a drive-in and El Dorado went ahead 62-60 with 58 seconds left after Line found a streaking Williams for the 3-point play despite a defender draped around him.
Bush answered with a big three on a defensive break-down and the Broncos went up 65-62 after two freebies. Williams connected in the lane and after Bella Vista made 1-of-2 free throws, Line went the distance to force overtime.
Thursday, the Cougars played Davis even after the Blue Devils raced out to a 29-9 first-quarter advantage. Line had 24 points to lead El Dorado
Against Rio, Williams bucketed 18 and Smith had 14. The Raiders outscored the Cougars 29-17 in the second half for their second, five-point win against El Dorado this preseason.