Behind composure, poise and second-half defense, the boys basketball squad from El Dorado High withstood solid shooting by visiting Amador to overcome an early second-quarter 10-point deficit Saturday.
The Cougars shone in the fourth quarter as Daniel Smith, Joe Visman, David Cochran, Travis Riedel andNick Jemmott, rebounded and hustled all over the court as El Dorado made clutch baskets on its way to a 62-55 preseason victory.
“We struggled over the first quarter and I believe most of that was due to nervousness,” Cougar coach Allen McCoy said. “Our team has great potential to have a really good season this year. Once we settled down and a couple guys came in that gave us some energy, our team pretty much took over down the stretch.
“Our defense was great in the fourth quarter and that was when we got into a flow, grabbed some rebounds and shut down Amador. Our team is going to play strong defense every night and with that we should have a great season.”
For the first eight minutes of Saturday’s game there was doubt whether El Dorado could win on opening night as the offense struggled and the Cougars found themselves down 17-7 in the opening minute of the second quarter.
“At the start of the game we just were unable to finish and make shots,” said Smith, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on the night. “We continued to play hard and began to make some stops that set up our offense. Our team took awhile to get going but overall we had a good game tonight and we’re looking forward to a good season and hopefully the league title.”
Once the Buffaloes appeared they’d take control, El Dorado’s defense began shutting them down. That allowed Visman (16 points), Jemmott (eight points) and Smith to find the basket and bring the Cougars back as Amador clung to a 27-26 halftime advantage.
Each team attempted to gain control over the next eight minutes as the sides played a fast-paced third quarter. With Kenny Headd, Justin Morrison, Smith, Visman, Cochran and Riedell making steals and hitting shots, El Dorado gained a brief one-point lead but still trailed 45-44 after three.
That quickly changed in the fourth as El Dorado was everywhere on the floor. The defense was stellar as Cochran (10 rebounds) cleaned up the defensive boards and on the offensive end, Smith, Visman and Morrison took advantage of their opportunities and continually found the basket to lead the Cougars to victory.
El Dorado is back in action numerous times this coming week as the Cougars entertain Calaveras Monday, play at Antelope Tuesday and then host the annual Gold Dust tournament Thursday, Friday and Saturday.