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EU, Sierra advance to semifinals
East Union center Jacob Danhoff avoids the block attempt from Lincolns Jassen Smith during their overtime thriller in the adidas Trojan Christmas Classic on Thursday. - photo by Photo By Sean Kahler

STOCKTON — The Sierra High Timberwolves and the East Union Lancers both advanced in opening-round action of the inaugural adidas Trojan Christmas Classic on Thursday.

Both local teams made use of their size advantage in the eight-team event played at Lincoln High.

Sierra (5-4) defeated Bethel (4-8) of the Solano County Athletic Conference, 68-55, with the front line of 6-foot-7 center Josh Patton, Hunter Johnson and Jonnythan Munkholm – both 6-4 – leading the way.

The Timberwolves will take on Cosumnes Oaks, which opened the tournament with an 86-82 victory over St. Mary’s, today at 5 p.m.

East Union (4-2) needed overtime in its 70-68 win against host Lincoln (3-8).

“We just battled all game long,” said Lancers coach Ryan Tarr, who relied on the inside play of 6-6 senior Jacob Danhoff and 6-4 senior Clay Cuneo.

The Trojans sizzled from the start, opening the game with a 15-2 run made possible by several turnovers off the press.

Lincoln also got strong outside shooting from Ravon Alexander and Michael Anderson. The two guards hit buckets from beyond the 3-point arc to help their team take a 30-14 cushion early in the second quarter.

But then East Union found a way to pound the ball inside to Cuneo and Danhoff.

Danhoff, who finished with a game-high 23 points, had an assist to Cuneo while breaking the press, and scored on a put-back off a missed free throw.

The Lancers closed out the first half on a 9-0 run.

“That nice run (in the second quarter) gave us momentum in the third quarter,” Tarr said.

Lincoln led 34-27 at the intermission and again built up a double-digit cushion midway through the third. But East Union chipped away, sticking to its game plan of working the ball inside to Danhoff and Cuneo.

A missed shot by the Trojans as the third came to close led to Robbie Gleockler’s and-one drive to the basket. He sank the free throw to complete the three-point play but, more importantly, pulled his team to within a point, 45-44.

Jassen Smith opened the fourth with a break-away slam dunk for Lincoln.

That wasn’t enough to rattle the Lancers, who kept it close thanks to a trey by Andrew Ruiz.

East Union finally went ahead with 35 seconds left in regulation on another Danhoff basket.

Ruiz hit three free throws only to be matched by Alexander, who not only hit his two from charity line, but also went coast-to-coast on a drive to force overtime, 62-62.

East Union opened the extra session on a basket by Ruiz coupled with a 3 by Lucas Garcia. A basket by Alexander and two free throws by Anderson kept Lincoln to within a point of the lead.

Cuneo’s put-back shot in the closing seconds provided the Lancers with a 69-66 advantage. He finished with 14 points. Ruiz and Gleockler had 10 and 8, respectively.

Alexander paced the Trojans with 23. Anderson chipped in with 19 while Smith had 10.

As time ticked away, Lincoln settled for a layup by Colby Dickson only to have Danhoff ice the game by hitting one of two free throws.

East Union will play the winner of the Edison-Modesto game at 6:30 today at Lincoln.

Meanwhile, Sierra coach Scott Thomason is hoping to see his team play with more consistency against Consumnes Oaks.

“We need to sustain our focus,” he said. “I liked the way we started the game. I liked the way we started the second – we were able to impose our will (on Bethel).”

The Timberwolves bolt edout to a 12-2 lead at the outset.

In the second, they made it 26-9, with Munkholm hitting 9 of his 11 points in that stretch.

Patton and Johnson both finished with 13.

The Jaguars rallied behind the outside shooting of Marc Williams and Malcolm Bracy. Elijah Wroten’s shot shortly before the half trimmed Sierra’s lead, 27-22.

In the second half, the Timberwolves built up a 17-point cushion, getting a trey from Devin Nunez and free throws from Johnson.

Bethel surged back on a pair of 3s from Bracy and one each from Laprell Gilton and Williams.

Nunez, who finished with a team-high 16, then hit six straight free throws and Bryson Sanders added two more from the line to close things out for Sierra.