Jim Agostini didn’t want it to be about him.
It is that selflessness that made his father, Augie, one of the most revered figures at East Union High.
The elder Agostini passed away Sunday at the age of 85, and his son’s Lancers honored his memory with a 57-33 victory at Sierra Tuesday.
Ashley Rose led the way with 26 points, four assists and four steals.
“The team and the coaching staff have been wonderful to me and my family the last few days,” said Jim Agostini, who later extended his gratitude for Sierra’s kind thoughts and gestures. “I just told the girls this isn’t about me and my family, it’s about them. ... I just wanted them to stay focused tonight.”
The Lancers (4-1 Valley Oak League, 17-1 overall) appeared focused at the start as they staked a 14-2 lead on Rachel McDaniel’s 3-pointer with 2:59 left in the first.
But while their mind was on the game, their collective heart was with Augie Agostini.
“All of us wanted to win it for him,” said McDaniel, who finished with 11 points, eight assists and three steals. “He went to every single game for the past however many years. It was motivation for us.”
Another source of motivation was last week’s road game against Weston Ranch, which handed East Union its first defeat of the season, 48-44.
East Union pieced together one of its best all-around efforts from start to finish Tuesday, burying the always-dangerous Timberwolves (2-3, 7-7) early on.
Rose hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth, to give the Lancers their largest lead of the game at 51-19.
“I think Thursday was actually a good thing for us, because now we don’t have to worry about trying to keep our undefeated record,” McDaniel said. “We just decided not to let it happen again. We came out and played relentlessly.”
East Union’s frontline combination of freshman Shalane Jackson, center Rachel O’Neal and reserve Alyssa Wegner did a terrific job of limiting Sierra’s post players.
Sierra center Heather Scharmann was still able to produce 14 points and 11 rebounds, but power forward Ariel McIntyre was held to just six second-half points.
“You have to respect their big girls,” Agostini said. “Heather and Ariel are good post players, so we tried to cram around them a little bit.”
Sierra has little time to recover from the loss, as it hosts Weston Ranch (3-2, 13-5) Thursday. The Timberwolves were coming off big victories over Oakdale and crosstown foe Manteca before Tuesday’s contest.
“We’re not by any means out of it,” Sierra assistant coach Johnny Aguilar said. “This is just our fifth game. We have some time to right the ship, so we’ll make some adjustments and hopefully turn this thing around a little bit.”