It is nice when you control your own destiny.
Ruby Daube took a cross-court pass from Olivia Vezaldenos with 5:45 left in the game Saturday and buried a 3-pointer to give host East Union the lead for good win a 59-52 Valley Oak League girls basketball win over Weston Ranch at Dalben Center.
The Lancers can punch their ticket to the playoffs in the third and final VOL playoff slot with a win at home over Central Catholic on Tuesday. The Cougars are already in the playoffs with the league’s second seed.
“Weston Ranch is a good team,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “That team has been getting us for the last few years.
“They have earned their spot and their record, but we came in as a team knowing that we were red hot. Our nay-sayers can say whatever they want but were are peaking at the right time of the year. You want your team playing their best ball of the year right now – not in December and not in January.”
Despite missing much of the game with foul trouble, Daube (six rebounds, three assists) and Vezaldenos (six assists, three steals) scored 16 and 13 points, respectively.
“This game was really exciting because we have been coming up short with Weston Ranch and the last game when we played them at their home they blew us out,” Daube said. “We didn’t play our game that night and we have got better ever since and now when we played them here we just took it to them and played our game.”
Much of the resurgence for the (9-4 VOL, 18-7) has been due to the return of Rena Dragony from a high-ankle sprain. Dragony continued her assault on the league Saturday with a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds.
“This was just a team effort,” Dragony said. “Every single person – even on the bench –
they all had something to do with the win.
“And it is just phenomenal. They are a great team but we played great defense and when we got down we fought to come back.”
There were 10 lead changes in the game with Weston Ranch (10-2, 19-5) enjoying a 39-31 lead late in the third quarter before Anna Wood scored four of her five points in an 8-0 run to end the period and tie the game at 39.
“It was ugly,” Cougars coach Chris Bauer said. “It was a long week bit physically and mentally. This was tough when you haven’t played on a Saturday since pre-season and then you have to play three games in a week.
“East Union came out and outplayed us. They were mentally a little tougher and you have to give them credit. We just didn’t play well.”
Daube’s lead-changing 3-pointer in the fourth quarter was part of 12-2 run for the Lancers to start the final period and extend the third-period-ending run to 20-2.
“They want to run and they put pressure on you,” Agostini said. “We believe that if we can stay close in a game and play good hard-nosed defense – especially on our home court – that we can tire out people, too.
Coming off a record-setting night Thursday when she scored 36 points behind a school-record seven 3-pointers, Weston Ranch’s Elisabeth Alexander was held to a team-high 15 points by Jessica Pablo.
“Jessica Pablo did a number on Alexander,” Agostini said. “When Ruby (Daube) and Olivia (Vezaldenos) got in foul trouble, we put Pablo on Alexander and she did an outstanding job.
“That girl just came off of a 36-point effort and I am proud of my defense.”
Teresa Haley added 10 points for the Cougars.
In the second quarter the Lancers were whistled for a personal foul. The referee suspected one East Union player of making an inappropriate comment after the call and then focused on another, needling her until he eventually gave her a technical foul.
Agostini pressed for an explanation and he too was awarded a technical.
“I was just being a coach trying to stick up for his player,” Agostini said. “I saw something as a coach that I didn’t agree with.
“I know as a referee he is there to possibly help players, to calm them down. My player chirped first and as a referee he needs to take control of the game, but I don’t think there needs to be more dialogue than that.”
East Union 47,
Weston Ranch 41
Alenna Haena and Haley Gosney led a balanced Lancers attack with seven points apiece and DeJohna Pryor and Faith Stofferahn chipped in six points each.
The Cougars’ Jayla Evans earned high-point honors with 10 and Selena Hoang added eight.
Weston Ranch 35,
East Union 27
Phyllis Strothers and Justice Stitts paced the Cougars with 14 points each. Strothers (five steals) had a double-double with 13 rebounds and Stitts had three steals.
Vanesa Garcia had eight points for the Lancers.