East Union High remains in the thick in the Valley Oak League race.
“All in all, we’re in a good position,” said Lancers coach Jim Agostini Wednesday following his team’s 59-47 victory over Weston Ranch in the Dalben Center. The win sets up Friday’s big match-up at league-leading Manteca.
“Obviously, we’re not trying to win the VOL in January — we’re just trying to get better as a team,” Agostini added.
East Union (4-1 VOL, 14-3) got a strong effort from sophomore center Donja Payne.
Against the Cougars, she had a game-high 23 points with 21 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass.
Payne also came up with seven steals to go with three blocks.
“She’s a tough match-up (in the post),” said Agostini of his young standout.
He was particularly pleased with the guard play of Ruby Daube and Hailey Gosney. Both were instrumental in getting the ball down low to Payne.
The Lancers trailed early on but charged back by constantly attacking the rim.
Weston Ranch (1-4 VOL, 7-9) built its opening lead by employing pressure defense. A couple of turnovers including a 3 by Justice Stitt spotted the Cougars with a 7-0 lead.
“We started off great, as far as our press,” said Weston Ranch coach Darrell Johnson.
East Union was hardly in panic mode. Daube twice fed Payne inside and Jessica Pablo followed that up by sinking a pair of free throws.
Weston Ranch rebounded after falling behind 14-11, with Vanessa Vega driving the hoop for a pair of baskets.
“Our (team) speed gave them problems,” Johnson said. “Our problem was that we missed a lot of wide open layups.”
The Lancers got some separation in the second quarter thanks to a 21-4 spurt.
Kayla Montoya, DeJohna Pryor, Jenna Zuniga, Pablo, Payne and Daube all contributed to that run.
Daube finished with 20 points and three steals. Pryor collected nine rebounds.
“We did a good job of protecting the ball, for the most part,” said Agostini, who received plenty of contribution from his bench.
Nia Boston, who is the freshman point guard for Weston Ranch, had 14 points.
Vega netted 10 points, nine boards, and three steals for the Cougars.
Asia Stamps and Stitt added eight and seven points, respectively.
East Union 66,
Weston Ranch 22
East Union jumped out to a 26-4 first-quarter lead en route to its 18th straight win.
Nina Murphy topped all scorers with 18 points, and Leilani Menor chipped in 12 for the Lancers (5-0, 18-0).
Weston Ranch 53,
East Union 5
The visiting Cougars led 21-2 and didn’t let up until the end, shutting out East Union in the final period in the rout.
Jennalyn Laminero amassed 25 points and seven steals. Darnasya Huff added 13 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Zahbria Hendrix contributed six assists and seven steals.