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ANOTHER CLOSE CALL

First-place Lancers fend off Sierra’s late rally

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ANOTHER CLOSE CALL

East Union's Lexy Posz goes up for two points but is challenged by Sierra defenders Shanedra Pitts, left, and Jaslynn Liotard during Monday's crosstown meeting at Sierra High.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 2, 2010 2:07 a.m.
It’s all about control for East Union High’s girls basketball team these days.

The Lancers control their own destiny in their quest for a fourth-straight Valley Oak League championship, and they increased their lead to three games over idle Sonora and Weston Ranch with a 41-33 win at Sierra Monday.

East Union (10-1, 18-4 overall) overcame a poor shooting night, foul trouble and a comeback charge mounted by the upset-minded Timberwolves (5-6, 10-11) who were down by as much as 18, 31-13, late in the third quarter.

The Lancers couldn’t control the unfortunate bounces off the rim, but they were able to dictate the pace with their defense. East Union forced 22 turnovers but also had 22 of its own.

 “I just like the idea of holding a team to 33 points,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “You can have off shooting nights, but you can’t have an off defensive night.

“They have competitors over there. They’re going to play to the end and you have to respect that.”

It took Sierra three quarters to score 17 points, but it scored 16 in 6 minutes, 55 seconds in the fourth.

Alysia Atkins, who poured in 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half, scored on a put-back with 1:05 remaining to close Sierra in, 39-33.

East Union turned it over with a backcourt violation on its next possession, but Sierra gave it right back with a travelling call. Krystal Young, one of three Lancers in foul trouble all night, sank two free throws with 33.5 seconds left to put the game away.

“We’ve played a lot of fourth quarters, but I’d like for us to have a lot of good first and second quarters, too,” Sierra coach Steve Unterholzner said.

Sophomore forward Shalane Jackson churned out 14 points and nine rebounds despite foul trouble. She fouled out with 1:18 to go.

Young was on the bench for most of the game after picking up three fouls in the first half, but she buried two key 3-pointers in the third quarter and finished with 10 points. Lexy Posz, who had four fouls, contributed nine points.

“I think we just didn’t come out with as much intensity as we could have, but we were still able to get the job done,” Jackson said. “We had some people in foul trouble, but our teammates picked it up.”

Sierra dug itself an early hole partially due to foul trouble. Point guard Jasmine Currimao, the team’s leading scorer for the season, was whistled for three fouls within the game’s first 7 minutes. She finished with six points.

“That was huge,” Unterholzner said. “She’s our main ball handler and she’s a great shooter. We lost a lot of offense there.”

East Union also struggled to seal the deal against Sonora at home last Thursday, when the Wildcats overcame a double digit halftime deficit before falling, 47-42. Two days before that East Union needed a last-second shot from Jackson to edge Ceres, 45-44.

East Union beat Ceres more handily the first time around, 52-29 on Jan. 5, but the Lancers expect to see the rest of the league’s best effort in the second half of league.

“This is the VOL, and we’re still trying to become a better basketball team,” Agostini said. “We feel we haven’t hit our stride yet, and that’s why these players are still coming to practice and working hard every day. This thing is not over.”
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