Behind four players in double-figures to offset five El Dorado double-digit scorers, visiting Ponderosa turned back host El Dorado 74-67 Tuesday night during preseason action in Cougar country.
Junior Bruin center Chris Snyder finished with a game-high 20 points for Ponderosa, while senior teammate Curtis Opsahl bucketed 16. Senior Jacob Bist netted 11 points while fellow senior Nicolas Bruks delivered 10. Junior Marcus Forbes finished the night with eight points while junior Benjamin Tucker and senior AlexRoberds had six and three, respectively.
Cougar senior Daniel Vance had a team-high 15 points on the evening and was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line while fellow senior Justin Morrison scored a dozen. Senior Sean Gregg finished with 10 points and three steals in the game, shooting 6-for-8 from the line. Aaron Line finished with 13 points, junior Tommy Williams contributed 11 (as well as a team-high four assists and three steals), junior Soren Shepherd had four points and sophomore Matt Smith had two to round out the scoring for El Dorado.
As a team, the Cougars finished 16-for-20 from the charity strike. Ponderosa was 7-for-12 from the line.
Both squads enjoyed their share of momentum throughout the game, but Bruin mental toughness won the day as El Dorado missed opportunities to capitalize throughout the night.
“The guys had energy out there,” Cougar head coach Ken Macklin said. “You could tell our kids played with heart tonight. We had some mental mistakes with execution at crucial points in the game … we’re close but we’re not quite over the hump yet.”
El Dorado went to halftime clinging to a two-point lead after Line heaved a half-court prayer at the buzzer that was answered emphatically in the form of a three-point basket and a frantic Blue Crew student cheering section.
The Bruins, under the guidance of head coach Troy Selvey, came back from the half intent on converting Cougar errors into points, and proceeded to outscore El Dorado in the second half 43-33 en route to the seven-point win.
“Tonight was by far the most complete game we’ve played,” Selvey said. “We have been struggling to perform in pressure situations, and the players have been working hard to improve. Our motto this year is ‘Every time we’re on the court, we want to improve’ and tonight was an entire team effort that showed a lot of improvement. We’re still a work in progress but we want to keep growing game-by-game, quarter-by-quarter, possession-by-possession.”
Ponderosa is 3-2 overall this preseason, while El Dorado is 0-4 and still pursuing its first win of the 2012-13 season.
“I think we’re in a good spot,” Cougar assistant coach B.J. Visman said. “We have a tough preseason schedule and we’re competing with [schools in higher divisions] and playing well enough to win these games. We just need to get to where we can close those games. We’re close. We’ll get there.”
Brandon Anicich may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org