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4th quarter saves Lancers
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It’s been years since Sierra High played competitive basketball against East Union.
But the Timberwolves under first-year coach Larissa Founts-Bergerson were able to do just that during Tuesday’s Valley Oak League opener against visiting East Union.
Sierra led through most of the second half until the Lancers went on another of their late fourth-quarter runs.
“We’ve played great in the fourth quarters in six of our last seven games,” said East Union coach Jim Agostini following his team’s 46-40 victory.
Founts-Bergerson played for Agostini at EU once upon a time.
“I know we’re both competitive people – we both want to win,” she said.
The Lancers (1-0 VOL, 7-5) were without Donja Payne, who was injured in last week’s Tracy Breakfast Lions / Tom Hawkins Tournaments.
Minus the 6-foot-2 junior center, Sierra (0-1, 4-7) had a sizable rebounding advantage, with Lindsey Walljasper leading the way with 17 rebounds. Furthermore, Timberwolves sophomore Natalie Dias and freshman Jordan Hayter collected 10 and nine boards, respectively.
“We knew we could be a threat in the post,” Founts-Bergerson said.
Walljasper, in particular, got most of her game-high 15 points from inside, including one that turned into a three-point play with 4:04 left in the game.
Down 36-35, East Union caught fire from the outside. Julia Vezaldenos, who was set up Hailey Gosney, hit a pair of treys.
And just like that, the Lancers had a 43-36 lead with 2:48 left.
Kayla Montoya came up pair of big rebounds to help put the game away.
The Timberwolves didn’t help their cause, connecting on just two of their eight free throws down that final stretch.
“I think we will learn from our mistakes,” said Founts-Bergerson. “As a team, we’re still in our infancy stages.”
East Union, meanwhile, welcomed Destiny Torio, who was a recent transfer from Venture Academy. She hit for a team-high 13 in her debut.
Torio also had a pair of steals late in the opening period, giving her team an 11-10 advantage, going into the second.
Walljasper powered her way for a pair of buckets while Dias converted on a three-point play. Raiann Prieto drained a 3, putting Sierra ahead at the half, 24-19.
The Lancers managed to keep the game close before making their big run late in the fourth.
Vezaldenos finished with 12 points while Gosney chipped in with eighth.
“Our girls played great defense in the second half,” said Agostini, who was thrilled to come away with a road win.
He added: “We got scoring from eight of our 13 players.”
Prieto had seven points for the Timberwolves, who will host Kimball on Thursday.
East Union will travel to Lathrop that day.

East Union 36, Sierra 23
Danielle James nearly matched the Timberwolves’ scoring output.
She netted 21 points to help lead the Lancers past Sierra in the VOL opener.