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Bella Vista opens CVC play with big win over Del Campo

Published: Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 7C

Seniors Ahmad Smith, Tyler Berkness and Adam Ciszewski have a chance to do what no other Bella Vista boys basketball players have done in school history.

Key contributors as sophomores, the trio can become the first Broncos players to win three consecutive league championships.

The No. 6 Broncos got a big start toward that goal Thursday by beating Fair Oaks rival No. 10 Del Campo 63-58 in a Capital Valley Conference opener at Bella Vista.

Smith had 20 points and Berkness 12, while the 6-foot-3 Ciszewski played outstanding defense against Del Campo's 6-7 senior star Semir Cahtarevic.

With Ciszewski in his face, Cahtarevic missed two potential score-tying three-point attempts from above the key in the final minute. Cahtarevic helped Del Campo rally from 10 points down late in the third quarter to close within 55-54 with a three-pointer with 4:09 to play.

Bella Vista (13-4) stayed one to three points ahead the rest of the way until Dominic Driggs, who finished with 17 points, made two free throws with one second to play.

"They call it the Battle of the Oaks in football, and it carries over to us, too," Bella Vista coach Dave Gonzalez said. "It's a special rivalry.

"We knew when we got up 10 that they were going to make a run because they have such a good offense. We made some plays at the end to pull it out."

Although Ciszewski and senior Austin Hennen combined for only six points, Gonzalez said their defense on Cahtarevic and 6-4 junior Vasilije Saraba were keys to the victory.

The Del Campo duo went into the game averaging a combined 34 points. Cahtarevic finished with 14 and Saraba 10, and they were a combined 9 for 33 from the field. Joe Ramirez scored 11 points for Del Campo (13-5).

"We knew they were good shooters, so we just tried to stay in front of them, keep our feet moving," Ciszewski said. "We tried to be physical with them the whole game, not let them get anything easy."

Ciszewski played in 22 varsity games as a freshman for a Bella Vista team that went 12-14 overall and 5-5 in the Capital Athletic League.

Since then, Bella Vista has been on the rise.

Two years ago, the Broncos went 16-13 and won the title in their first year in the CVC with a 9-1 record. They lost to Antelope in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinals.

Last season, Bella Vista improved to 26-6, won the CVC again (9-1) and fell again to Antelope, this time in the semifinals at Sleep Train Arena.

"We've really developed good chemistry over the last three years and Tyler, Ahmad and me are just trying to set a good example, especially for the younger players," Ciszewski said. "Winning league is a big goal, but we'd like to go even farther in the playoffs. It will be a challenge because we're now in D-I."

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