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Gordons defensive effort in post keys EU win
East Union’s TeeJay Gordon soars past Alex Martinez while on his way to the basket late in the fourth quarter of Friday’s marquee Valley Oak League contest at Manteca High. - photo by HIME ROMERO
We already know TeeJay Gordon, the flashy guard who can heat up from the perimeter and create for himself and his teammates as good as anyone in the Valley Oak League.

On Friday, TeeJay Gordon introduced himself as East Union’s shutdown defender in the post.

On top of scoring 18 points and dishing out six assists, the 5-foot-10 Gordon kept host Manteca High’s E.J. Godfrey — a lumbering 6-5 center and one of the VOL’s top interior scorers — in check.

The Lancers dealt the league’s two-time defending champion its worst loss of the season, 77-53.

East Union (4-2, 10-7 overall) defeated its crosstown rival for the first time since Feb. 15, 2008, and Manteca (3-3, 6-11) had won eight of their last 10 meetings.

“Our thing tonight was that we wanted to shut E.J. Godfrey down,” said East Union head coach Brett Lewis, later acknowledging Godfrey’s 37-point performance against VOL-leading Weston Ranch and his 20-points-per-game average.

“We put TeeJay on him because we thought he was smart enough and quick enough to get the job done. He took his assignment personally.”

Godfrey ended up scoring 14 points, but seven of them came in the fourth quarter with the game already well out of the Buffaloes’ reach. East Union led 57-38 at the start of the fourth quarter, and a 17-2 onslaught put it away for good.

The key for undersized Gordon and the rest of the Lancers was to smother Godfrey before he had opportunities to get his hands on the ball. In doing so successfully, Manteca had to rely on its guards to match EU’s backcourt standouts stride for stride.

Advantage East Union.

“I knew that I just came out with more energy it wouldn’t be as hard to stop him,” Gordon said. “When you see him on film he doesn’t show a lot of intensity, so I knew that if I got into (his head) he’d be frustrated the whole game.

“I was planning on not letting him touch the ball the whole game. I just fronted him and worked hard.”

East Union turned defense into offense in the second quarter, which it began with an 8-0 run and ended with 14 unanswered points over the final 2 minutes, 12 seconds.

The Lancers’ final eight points of the half were transition buckets off turnovers, the last of which was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Gordon from the wing. Gordon converted four 3-pointers.

Robert Vaughn had 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead EU, and sophomore Jordan Kron added 15 points. East Union had 12 of 14 players score.

“We had a hard practice on Thursday, and we knew what kind of atmosphere we’d have in here,” Vaughn said. “Everyone, the starters and the bench players, was doing their job. Once we got the momentum we just went from there.”

Lewis just hopes it doesn’t end Friday for the Lancers.

Being guard-heavy, East Union is at its best creating turnovers on defense, running its transition offense unselfishly and effectively and knocking down 3s from everywhere. The Lancers have struggled doing all of that consistently.

 “This is just what we needed,” Gordon said. “Now we know how we can play. If we play like this all the time we’d be hard to beat.”

Manteca coach Dave Asuncion thought his team was in trouble trailing 18-16 in the first quarter. While certainly still in the game, he was worried that his Buffaloes would get caught up in East Union’s preferred uptempo style of play.

Manteca is now 0-6 when giving up 60 or more points this year.

“When they made their run in the second quarter we kind of hit the panic button and got away from what we were trying to do,” Asuncion said.