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Cougars pounce early, roll EU
Lancers held to 12 first-half points
Weston Ranch defender April Seth forces East Union’s Lexy Posz back to her rig ht Tuesday in VOL action.
WESTON RANCH – After one half of play there was little reason for the East Union Lancers to walk into the locker room with their heads up. The Lances floundered nearly every possession they held, they lacked any intensity and they had only mustered 12 points.

On the other hand, things were clicking in every way imaginable for the Weston Ranch Cougars. They opened with a great first quarter which carried into the second and provided the foundation to fend off a Lancer comeback in their 64-50 Valley Oak League win Tuesday.

In a victory that keeps the Cougars linked atop the VOL standings with Manteca High, Weston Ranch seized the moment with a complete team effort for four quarters. Weston Ranch (6-1 VOL, 12-6 overall) did exactly what it needed to do to separate themselves from the defending champions – outplay East Union.

“This is the first time our program has been in first place at the varsity level since I’ve been here,” Cougars head coach Chris Bauer said. “When we got into a three-way tie with our win against Sierra, the girls were shocked, like ‘We’re in first place’, so they had the weekend to let that sink in.

“They’re starting to believe that coach might know what he’s talking about.”

Bauer pulled all the right strings early, grabbing an early 11-6 lead before breaking things open for good in the second quarter with a 13-4 run. Offensively, eight different Cougars scored in the first half.

Timnesha Wilson (16 points), Marceen Bryant (10 points) and Jasmine Strane (10 points) all finished in double-figures, and teammates Emoni Wilson and April Seth finished with nine. The balance on offense was a direct result of the Cougars stifling defense. The success Weston Ranch had stopping any East Union offensive productivity turned directly into scoring chances Weston Ranch converted.

The Lancers were able to find their old selves in the second half, getting outscored 40-38, but the deficiencies of the first half gave East Union too steep a climb.

“For one, you get desperate,” East Union head coach Jim Agostini said. “We put ourselves in a position where we just had to gamble. As a basketball team we may have learned something there, as a staff we might have, and as a whole program we have to look at it and see what it is we need to do.

“We’re having a tendency of having these slow starts; this is nothing new for us.”

The Lancers (5-2, 13-5) have dealt themselves a serious blow in their title defense hopes and were forced to respond at halftime, but even in the midst of an offensive breakout in the second half, the Lancers were still outscored by a bucket. Briona Fontenot led the Lancers with 16, while Lexy Posz and Shalne Jackson both added 15.

“I have a group that is competitors,” Agostini said. “When you have a half like that where you score 12 points, it doesn’t take much for me to get their attention. They know their situation and they came out and competed that second half.

“It’s tough, you really don’t want to come out and have a letdown game like this.”

East Union will be back on the court Thursday hosting Sierra, while Weston Ranch will host the Manteca Buffaloes.