East Union worked exhaustively on the “boring” stuff on Monday.
There was a reason why the Lancers had so much fun Tuesday.
The second-seeded team in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs routed No. 15 Central Valley 65-47 at Dalben Center and executed its various offensive plays to a T.
“Last night we spent a lot of time working on our sets and it’s boring, but it pays off,” East Union point guard Olivia Vezaldenos said. “It’s good to switch it up on the court because they won’t know what’s coming.”
Vezaldenos led East Union (27-1) with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Backcourt mate Ruby Daube scored 11 of her 14 points in the first half, and 6-foot-2 freshman Donja Payne collected 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks.
The trio was of course heavily involved in their sets, with either guard finding the other on backdoor passes or the rangy Payne with over-the-top deliveries.
“We ran our sets tonight about as good as we’ve run them,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “We ran a whole boatload of them, about six different sets with cuts and picks. I thought the half-court execution was really good and the defense was solid. Very pleased.”
Though the result was the same, Tuesday’s postseason opener played out differently than the non-league tilt between the two back in December. East Union, playing its third game in as many nights, was sluggish to start and pulled away late for a 50-45 win.
The Lancers wanted to set the tone defensively in the rematch.
“We saw in the film that our rotations and man-to-man defense just wasn’t what it is now, and we definitely wanted to improve on that,” Vezaldenos said.
Central Valley (18-8), the Western Athletic Conference co-champion, was held to just two points for the first six minutes and was behind 15-6 by the end of the opening period. The Hawks did well to stay in the game early in the third quarter after trailing 33-19 at halftime. They went on an 8-2 run to close it to 37-27 at one point but got no closer. Vezaldenos answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, freeing herself from a stumbling defender with a spin move to set up the shot.
“Olivia, she’s good,” Central Valley coach Jesse Padilla said. “She’s one of the best point guards I’ve seen around her in a long time next to Mikayla (Mabie). She shot lights out.”
Mabie displayed her all-around skills despite foul trouble, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds. She picked up two fouls in the first quarter, had three by the midway point and a fourth with 3:45 left in the third. Mabie was never sidelined and managed to not foul out. Starting center Alyssa Costa was not so lucky, as she fouled out with 5 seconds to go in the third.
“I just told (Mabie) this is it, if you’re out we’re done,” Padilla said. “Once she got into foul trouble like that she kind of backed off on the defensive side and that really hurt us. That just shows how far we drop off without her.”
Reserve post Adrianna Haynes contributed 11 points and eight rebounds for Central Valley. Alexis Contreras added 10 points and two blocks. Adria Robinson chipped in nine points and eight rebounds.
East Union takes a 17-game winning streak into its second-round game with No. 7 River Valley (23-4) of Yuba City, which knocked off 10th-seeded Fairfield 43-25 on Tuesday. A victory for the Lancers in Thursday’s quarterfinal back at Dalben Center would break a program record for most wins in a single season for the Lancers.
“When you get in this format, just keep winning,” Agostini said.