East Union is getting into an early-season groove, and just in time for its biggest challenge so far.
The Lancers opened the Tracy Breakfast Lions/Tom Hawkins Tournament with a 56-38 win over Tokay of Lodi at West High. They outscored the Tigers (1-7) 21-8 in the fourth quarter to blow it open.
The prize for prevailing Thursday: a duel with undefeated McNair (8-0), which thumped Kimball 64-42 despite missing key players. Of those missing is super transfer Tiara Tucker (Brookside Christian), who will not be eligible for another two weeks. Mandy Coleman, a 6-foot-4 center and Oklahoma State signee, and others have more than made up for Tucker’s absence.
East Union, now 6-2, is taking a four-game winning streak into tonight’s winners-bracket quarterfinal at West. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 o’clock.
“That will be a great test for us,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “Honestly, I’d rather see them than a (Valley Oak) league opponent this early in the year. We’ll see Kimball twice down the road, but we need to get some more games under us.”
Agostini said that his players are still getting acquainted with their roles on the team. Olivia Vezaldenos appears to be comfortable with hers. She ended up two assists shy of her second triple-double of the season, finishing with 20 points and 10 steals. The sophomore point guard buried four 3-pointers, and she helped kick start EU’s dominant closing run by scoring eight of her points in the fourth quarter.
“We ran a few things to free her up and it worked,” Agostini said. “It’s not like we’re telling her not to shoot.”
Freshmen starters Loretta Kakala and Ruby Dauby added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Dauby also had five assists and four steals. Anna Wood contributed eight points, and Victoria Vezaldenos pulled down six rebounds.
Gregori 58, Manteca 23
Across town at Tracy High, the Buffaloes did well to keep up with Gregori (8-3) early on and were down six by halftime.
Manteca, however, had no answer for 6-3 forward Emilee Van Dyke, who poured in 22 points for the Jaguars. Costly turnovers and poor shooting also stumped the Buffs in the second half. They were paced by Jessica Hasal’s 11 points.
The Buffaloes (2-6) face Mills of Millbrae in the consolation play starting at 3 today back at Tracy.
Mission San Jose 58, Lathrop 43
At Tracy High, the Spartans (2-7) were simply outgunned by the Warriors (6-2) of Fremont. Mission started out with a 24-point flurry in the first and led 42-22 at halftime.
Loreal Taylor did all she could, producing 24 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 9-for-11 form the field and 6-for-8 on free throws. Sophomore Lauren Collins contributed six points. Terrina Phillips, called up from the sophomore squad to help fill in Lathrop’s thinning roster, added four points in her varsity debut.
Lathrop takes on Johansen today, 4:30 at Tracy.
Silver State Slam
Weston Ranch 76, Churchill County 58
The Cougars (6-2) punched their ticket to the second round in Reno after A.J. Brown (17), Elisabeth Alexander (15) and Patricia King (13) combined for 45 points.
Weston Ranch, which plays Reed High of Sparks today in the quarterfinals, also received nine from Teressa Hailey and eight apiece from Alayah Thomas and Victoria Gulley. Reed also features 5-11 guard Gabby Williams, who inked a scholarship to play for the UConn Huskies in 2014-15.
The Cougars outscored Churchill County High (3-4) 22-8 in the second quarter after trailing 17-13 after the first eight minutes. Weston Ranch also tallied 18 total assists.