The host El Dorado boys basketball team accomplished a key objective in its Sierra Valley Conference opener with Cosumnes Oaks Monday night but the bigger one — a victory — elluded the Cougars’ grasp as the Wolfpack emerged 63-53 winners.
El Dorado came in wanting to limit Alex Van Dyke. The talented junior did end up with a game-high 21 points but it was his teammates — notably Eric Toles, Matt Muldavin and others that enabled Cosumnes to stay in front of a Cougar squad seeking revenge for last Saturday’s 17-point setback to the ‘Pack at the Toss-Up Tournament — a game that saw Van Dyke go off for 34 points.
“The difference is that we were able to hold him (Van Dyke) down but what happened is that they hit their shots and other kids stepped up,” El Dorado coach Ken Macklin said. “There was that stretch in the third quarter where our turnovers led to their easy baskets but once we settled down we were able to give ourselves a chance to get back in it.”
Muldavin’s six-point flurry to open the second half let the visitors extend from a seven-point halftime advantage but the Cougars chipped away. Daniel Vance, who scored all 10 of his points after halftime, went inside for six, third-quarter points but on the other end, Van Dyke countered with seven. Despite a buzzer-beater from Soren Sheppard, the Wolfpack still led 51-40 going to the fourth.
“Having played each other several days ago we both knew what the other would do so it came down to execution at the end which we were able to do,” said Muldavin who finished with 10 points. “They (Cougars) really focused on stopping Van Dyke and it was tough getting him the ball so it was on the guards to penetrate and attack (the basket).”
Aaron Line’s bucket early in the fourth had El Dorado within 51-44 but each time the Cougars narrowed the deficit Cosumnes Oaks had an answer. The hosts’ last push came with Justin Morrison (10 points) on the free throw line — he made one, missed the second — but grabbed the rebound for a putback with 3:25 left as El Dorado pulled to within 57-49.
Matt Smith’s drive-in off the glass and Vance’s follow shot did make it 60-53 but just 1:08 remained as the Cougars went to a timeout. Vance’s block returned possession to El Dorado but Boles did likewise, was fouled and sank both free throws to put the game out of reach.
“We just had that breakdown in the third quarter but we’ll get there,” said Line who led the Cougars with 15 points.
El Dorado set the tone defensively in the first as Michael Weston recorded back-to-back blocks. Overall, Weston rejected five shots, Vance swatted three others and Michael Webb and Morrison also had blocks — part of El Dorado’s success against Van Dyke.
Sean Gregg’s steal and coast-to-coast layin and Line’s putback gave the Cougars their only lead at 10-8 late in the first quarter before the Wolfpack scored seven of the next nine points to lead 15-12.
For its second crack at Cosumnes Oaks in two days, El Dorado had Smith and Tommy Williams back in the mix but Smith’s returned was marred by a bloody nose seconds in and then a uniform change and Williams, despite consecutive takes for second quarter baskets, wasn’t in game-shape to have a greater impact.
The Cougars are back in action tonight at Galt.