WESTON RANCH — The East Union girls basketball team’s bid for Valley Oak League perfection was crushed again at Weston Ranch.
The three-time defending champion struggled on the offensive end and had no answer for 5-foot-11 sophomore center Jazmin Strane in its 50-40 loss Friday.
Last year, East Union opened up the season with a 16-game winning streak but had it halted at Weston Ranch’s home floor in the fourth contest of VOL action.
It was a big finish to the week for Weston Ranch (3-2, 10-6 overall), which started it with a 63-37 setback to Sonora on the road Tuesday. The Cougars bounced back with a 49-34 win over Ceres Thursday before handing East Union (4-1, 12-4) its first conference defeat.
East Union remains in first place ahead of Sonora (4-2, 9-8), but there is a growing logjam near the top with 3-2 teams Manteca, Sierra and Weston Ranch nipping at the Lancers’ heels.
Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer hopes that Tuesday’s loss is behind the team going forward.
“These games in league our tough,” Bauer said. “We had to get our heads in the right situation after Tuesday’s game, and we’re moving in the right direction.
“The win against Ceres was huge, and tonight’s game was another good win for us.”
Strane shined in the post for the Cougars, as she finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds — six of which were plucked off the offensive glass.
“We went inside to Jazmin quite a bit, and she took care of business tonight,” Bauer said.
Point guard Timnesha Wilson added 15 points and six steals to the cause, while freshman Emoni Wilson chipped in nine points and four steals.
More impressive was Weston Ranch’s work on the defensive end. The Cougars’ press forced turnovers that were parlayed into easy buckets in the first half, and they led 28-19 at the intermission. Weston Ranch put it away in the fourth quarter by sinking 10 of 13 free throws.
Senior Krystal Young poured in 19 points to lead the Lancers, but their other two scorers were limited. Lexy Posz, the team’s season leader in scoring, was held to just five points, while sophomore forward Shalane Jackson had seven.
“We didn’t do anything different (defensively against Posz), we just went straight up man on her the whole game and wanted them to let somebody else beat us,” Bauer said. “Young did a great job for them; she scored eight of her points in the fourth quarter.
“It was just a good team effort all the way around. The kids off the bench came in and helped push the tempo. We were able to get them into foul trouble and force them into mistakes, and that was the difference.”
Sierra 57, Oakdale 53 OT
The host Timberwolves (3-2, 8-7) continued their impressive start to the regular season by edging Oakdale (2-3, 11-4) in overtime Friday.
Sierra led 37-29 going into the fourth quarter, but Oakdale standout Cassandra Clark erupted for 10 of her 19 points in the final period of regulation to force overtime.
Stephanie Vanni did well to limit Clark for most of the game, but she also hit a big bucket and two free throws in the extra period to key the win.
Vanni finished with seven points.
Guards Jasmine Currimao and Michelle Arroyo pumped in 11 points apiece for Sierra, while center Jaslynn Liotard added 10.
“To hold (Clark) to nine points for three and a half quarters was huge,” Sierra coach Steve Unterholzner said. “She’s going to get her points because she’s a good player, but Stephanie kept her under control. Stephanie just did her thing.”
Sierra, which is in a three-way tie for third place in the VOL, has a big week coming up with Manteca, Weston Ranch and Central Valley up next.
“We’ve always believed that we were going to be in the hunt right from the beginning,” Unterholzner said.
Ceres 51, Lathrop 26
LATHROP — The Spartans opened the contest neck and neck with Ceres (3-3, 8-8), trailing 11-8 after a quarter of play, but Lathrop (0-6, 2-14) was outscored 34-9 over the next 16 minutes.
Ceres’ post tandem of Jode Johnson and Jaime Beck dominated in every facet. The pair opened up a Ceres advantage by securing the offensive glass and combined for 42 points, 22 of them coming from the 6-foot, 2-inch Beck.
“We were a little flat after the first period,” Lathrop head coach Ed Fang said. “We played good defense, but our problem is we have nobody big to match up inside.
“They kept feeding that post and were able to get what they wanted.”
Jazlyn Simon led the Spartans with 14 points and teammate Jasmine Elder chipped in with seven.