September 30, 2016

Vista del Lago hungry for more

Kevin McCarthy

Now the name Vista del Lago may conjure up an image of a southern California retirement community to the uninformed but, in this specific case, it's actually a boys basketball team in Folsom.

photo of Vista Del Lago high school logo

Coach Tim Weir and the Eagles finished a very solid 21-10 overall last season plus 8-2 with a first-place finish in the Capital Athletic League.

With press coverage usually consumed by the likes of Capital Christian, Folsom, Woodcreek and Sacramento High, Luke Avdalovic generated an on-line, television and print bonanza when he buried a game-winning trey very late in an opening round playoff game versus Sierra High.

Two days later, Will FitzPatrick stunned host Capital Christian 64-62 with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from halfcourt in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinal matchup. An even larger media frenzy took place.

All this in what was expected to be a rebuilding season, according to Weir. "We were up and down in pre-season but started 4-0 in league until we went to El Camino and lost. That put us behind the eight ball." But Vista del Lago earned revenge in the rematch, taking down El Camino 60-52 to close out the Capital Athletic League schedule and nab the league title.

"The kids did their roles, the defensive guys did their jobs and the offensive guys theirs," Weir explained. "Vista is a high academic school and we're a high IQ team. The kids bring it to the court. We can change things on the fly and they pick it up."

Another element contributing to the success of the Eagles was the fulfillment of a mandatory offensive precept. "We try and get the kids to do what they can do. If you don't have a good shot, move the ball. It's get the best open shot you can. Do not take a contested shot. You move the ball to an open teammate and next time you will become the open teammate. We stress working together to get the best shot we can get every possession. We have multiple shooters on the perimeter and big post up players who can score. We are going to make it tough on defenses this year."

Weir added, "We weren't a physical team last season and that caused us some problems. I don't believe that will happen this year." That's because the core of the team is returning.

"We have eight of our top nine coming back and that's 58 of the 64 points we averaged. Three to four guys could average 15-20 points and six or seven could go off offensively on any given night. Our starting lineup could be 6-foot-3, 6-foot-3, 6-foot-5, 6-foot-5 and either 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8. Our point guard could be 6-foot-5 this season."

The Eagle returnees are led by 6-foot-3 senior Luke Avdalovic with 15.3 points per game while shooting 49%, 41% and 81%. Close behind is Will FitzPatrick, also a 6-foot-3 senior, with 13.4 points on 52%, 45% and 83% accuracy. 6-foot-8 senior Thomas Reinking provided 7.3 points 6.7 rebounds and 6-foot-5 senior Chris Fairchild contributed 8.5 and 5.8 plus a pair of steals a contest.

Weir also noted, "We have 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-3 coming off our bench in the post and our guards will be 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-1." Grant Bellisis a 6-foot-5 senior who totaled 8.8 points a night despite not starting. 6-foot-7 senior Terry Moody's contribution was 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds. 6-foot-2 senior Arjun Rama scored 3.7 points last season but Weir noted "he worked really hard this summer" and a larger contribution is expected from him.

The Eagles are aces in the classroom. Both Avdalovic and Fitzpatrick earned 4.0 grade point averages. Moody was right behind at 3.8 followed by Reinking's 3.7. Bellis notched a 3.2 with Fairchild enjoying a 3.0.

But amidst all the positive, Weir warned, "We lost two seniors who were our defensive glue and I don't know if the glue is coming back."