TRACY — Napa shredded man-to-man defenses with ease in its three games leading up to Tuesday’s Tom Hawkins/Tracy Breakfast Lions Tournament championship round matchup with East Union.
Not even East Union, a team that prides itself on one-on-one pressure, could not stop Napa’s dribble penetration, crafty passing and keen ability to get open without the ball.
So after falling behind 14-5 after a quarter of play, the Lancers did something they hadn’t had to do in their previous 11 games.
Pack the key with bodies in a 2-3 zone and dare the opposition to beat them with perimeter shots.
East Union stamped its benchmark victory of the preseason, stunning the Indians 54-48 at Tracy High’s Swenson Gym.
The Indians (9-4) especially had trouble working through and around the Lancers’ zone in the second quarter, when East Union outscored them 17-6.
All-tournament selection Noelle Roldan, who finished with 17 points and four steals, accounted for Napa’s two 3-pointers — the latter being a halfcourt prayer as time expired.
“They execute (against) the man-to-man better than anybody,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “So we threw a switch on it to see if they can shoot from outside.
“We had to roll the dice tonight. When we tried to play man-to-man on them it was very difficult for us.”
Ashley Rose finished with 21 points and six steals and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 17.3 points in four games.
Rose scored the Lancers’ first seven points in the fourth quarter to give them a 44-39 lead they would not relinquish.
Freshman Shalane Jackson contributed 12 points, and sophomore Lexy Posz had eight to go with eight rebounds.
East Union’s Rachel McDaniel (six points) was also named to the all-tournament team, as was Napa’s Shannon Rankin (four points, 10 rebounds).
“I’m just real happy that we won, whether or not I got MVP,” Rose said. “This is our first time ever winning this tournament, so it feels good.”
East Union goes into its final preseason contest against visiting Armijo of Fairfield Friday with a perfect 12-0 record.
But Tuesday’s win tastes sweeter than the rest.
“This is a great win for us, Rose said. “Napa is a great team. We had to step up our game to play with them, and we stepped it up to a whole new level. I’m proud of all my teammates for that.”
In the fifth-place game, the Cougars (10-3) battled the tournament co-host tough for 3 1/2 quarters but were ultimately beaten at the free-throw line, where West finished 21-for-32. Weston Ranch attempted just 15 shots from the stripe, making seven.
Timnesha Wilson led the Cougars with 12 points, and all-tournament selection Jazmin Strane finished with nine.
“It was a good tournament,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “We matured and we grew up a lot.”
The Buffaloes (7-5) wrapped up the tournament on a high note for an 11th-place finish.
They were led by Sharon Washington’s 11 points, five rebounds and four steals. Davina Bennett added 10 points and eight rebounds.
“It was a good showing for us,” Manteca coach Andrea Hiatt said. “We played great teams, and we got to see where we match up. We got to see our strengths and weaknesses, and what we need to work on going into league next week.”