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Reigning VOL champ stifles East Union

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Sierra’s Emmanuel Elijah shoots the ball over East Union defender Robbie Gloeckler.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 4, 2013 11:41 p.m.

The Sierra Timberwolves used team defense to help pull off a 55-40 Valley Oak League victory Friday over the Lancers at the Dalben Center.

“We didn’t want to give them anything in the paint,” said Sierra senior guard Emmanuel Elijah, who served as the catalyst on the defense.

Because of that, East Union (1-1, 12-2) had trouble getting its offense untracked. Jordan Kron managed 12 of his team-high 17 points in the first half, with the game going back and forth until the final three minutes of the second quarter.

After the Lancers’ Robbie Gleockler hit the back of end of two free throws, tying the game at 15-15, the Timberwolves went on a 10-2 run sparked by Guillermo Nunez.

The senior guard dropped in a pair of a treys followed by a fast-break hoop. Elijah and Bryson Sanders also chipped in with baskets.

Ahead 28-20 at the break, Sierra (2-0, 12-3) saw its lead start to dwindle due in part to turnovers.

Jake Danhoff and Kron converted baskets and Gleockler and Aaron Ramos added a free throw each as East Union pulled to within a field goal, 30-28.

But the tide soon turned as Justin Patton delivered on a break-away slam dunk for Sierra.

“I think that’s what got us going,” said Nunez, who finished with a game-high 19 points.

From there, the Timberwolves outscored East Union, 11-3, surging ahead 41-30 while hitting seven straight free throws including a three-point play by Melgar.  D’Ari Allen, who got a feed from Nunez, closed out the quarter with a one-handed jam.

Elijah, who finished with 10 points, and Nunez then helped closed the door on the Lancers as Sierra took a 50-34 lead late in the game.

Danhoff had 10 for East Union.

“We had planned to play Justin (Nieto) more but he couldn’t go (because of injury),” said Lancers coach Brett Lewis. “Offensive rebounds killed us – they had nine points in the first quarter, with eight coming on put-back shots.”

Timberwolves coach Scott Thomason again credited his defense.

“I was proud of our guys (on defense),” he said. “They used their quickness and made (East Union) settle for jumpers.”

Lewis, meanwhile, was looking to put this game behind.

“In the big picture, it was a good loss,” he said. “But it’s still early in the season. We’ll see Sierra at least one more time.”

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