There was no playoff berth on the line Tuesday at Sonora, but both the Wildcats and visiting East Union apparently didn’t get the memo.
It was a lively duel from the start, as they traded big runs until the Lancers escaped with a 55-51 victory. Freshman Loretta Kakala netted 25 points to lead all scorers, and Olivia Vezaldenos chipped in with 10.
East Union (9-5 VOL, 18-8 overall) had already garnered the Valley Oak League’s third and final postseason berth after Saturday’s two-point loss to runner-up Weston Ranch was overturned. Weston Ranch had to forfeit the win for using an illegal player, and the loss knocked Sonora (7-7, 13-10) out of contention for a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff spot.
The Lancers are back in the tournament after having a 13-year run of appearances end last season.
“Everything played out the way we had hoped tonight,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game as it always is in Sonora, but we wanted to win this game. We wanted to end the (regular) season on a good note.”
Both teams still played with something to prove Tuesday. With standout guard Bailey Henington out with an ankle injury, the wildcats hassled East Union with thier press defense and took a 21-13 lead. The Lancers answered with an 18-3 second quarter and was ahead 44-36 heading into the fourth.
“We had a rough start and turned the ball over 12 times in the first quarter,” Agostini said. “In the second quarter we only had one turnover, but we had great defensive play from our reserves. That was pretty much the difference of the game.”
Agostini lauded the efforts of Nayeli Del Real, Madison Hoffman and Marina Salyer for their effort off the bench.
With Henington sidelined, Sonora sophomore Michelle Ries helped pick up the slack offensively with 16 points. Shea Stead contributed 14.
Sierra 59, Lathrop 25
The Timberwolves (5-9, 13-14) ended the season on a high note by avenging one of their VOL losses Tuesday. They were ahead 9-3 after the first quarter but erupted with 19 points in each of the next two to run away with it.
Haley Silva had 14 points to lead all scorers. Tiffany Harris added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Third-year varsity senior Celine Barber contributed eight points, and Kayla Wilson dished out six assists. All five of Sierra’s seniors scored.
Lathrop (4-10, 8-18) was led by Akilah Lesley’s 11 points. Standout senior center Loreal Taylor missed the Spartans’ final three contests with a sprained knee.
“We’ve come a long way and I think we proved something to ourselves tonight,” said Sierra coach Martha Spivey, who completed her first year at the helm.
Oakdale 39, Manteca 33
The Buffaloes (4-10, 7-20) were unable to recover from a 15-2 first-quarter deficit.
“It was the story of our season,” Manteca coach Cody Norman said. “We played 24 good minutes, but eight minutes were not so great.”
Four-year varsity player Jessica Hasal collected 13 points in her final outing for Manteca. Madison Hackbarth had 13 for Oakdale (3-11, 12-15).
Sonora 37, East Union 20
Jessica Pablo and Jordyn Posz each scored six points in what was off shooting night for the visiting Squires (7-7, 17-8).
Sierra 57, Lathrop 28
Devi Cogilo fired 21 points as Sierra (9-5, 19-9) completed a successful campaign with a resounding victory.
Trayana Davis amassed 19 points to go with five rebounds and four steals. Kendelle Messersmith flirted with a triple-double, finishing with nine points, 10 assists and six boards.
Manteca 46, Oakdale 41
Rubel Dehal buried a half-court shot to beat the first quarter buzzer while on her way to a team-high 12 points for Manteca, which finished second in the VOL. Leah Manuleleua added eight points.
Manteca 50, Oakdale 36
The Buffaloes (13-1, 18-2) have earned back-to-back VOL titles at the freshman level. They were sparked by Malia Parangan’s 22 points and Lelja Pepic’s 15.