EL DORADO — El Dorado kept the Sierra Valley Conference title in sight Friday with a narrow 44-40 win over Union Mine at the Snake Pit.
The Cougars (8-3, 13-12) host River City (9-2) tonight, and a win ties the Raiders for the conference title.
After D’back Austin Russell (13 points) hit a basket to tie the score, 22-all, in the third quarter, El Dorado went on an 11-2 run thanks to three-pointers from Soren Shepherd and Aaron Line.
“Aaron is the heart and soul of this team,” El Dorado head coach Conrad Dizon said. “We’ve got a guy who leads us, and wants us to win.”
Russell spent most of the night harassing the Cougars’ backcourt.
“We knew they drove every time they got the ball,” Russell said. “Everybody wanted to play hard, and go out on a good memory.”
Union Mine head coach Mike Verbitsky added, “Austin has really picked up his play. He struggled early, but defensively he did a great job.”
Union Mine cut El Dorado’s lead to 40-35 with 52 seconds left when Andrew Vaughn (game-high 15 points) canned a trey from top of the key. Sinking 4-of-6 free throws, the Cougars held on.
“Defensively, we played real well,” Verbitsky said. “That gave us a chance.”
Dizon added, “This was a rivalry game. They fought for their season.”
Line had 18 points and Matt Smith 11. Shepherd finished with eight points, Tommy Williams added four and Ian Spencer three.
After Vaughn and Russell, Brody Pearman scored seven points, Joey Ravetto three and Esteban Gonzalez two.
Russell, fellow seniors Sean Verbitsky, Tyler Parker, Brett Owens, Tommy Tolman and Gonzalez and their families were recognized prior to the game.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.