Sometimes a game is more than just a game.
Such was the case Saturday night as the East Union girls program traveled to Ripon to take on the Indians in the Sixth Annual Play in Pink game, a fund raiser for the local chapter of Triple Step Toward the Cure, a charity benefitting local women and families in need as a result of cancer.
Coming into Saturday’s game the two programs had raised in excess of $24,000 in the last five years and if the foyer of the Ripon High gym that was crammed full of raffle prizes was any indication, the sixth edition of this event was really going to stuff the coffers.
Following a sluggish start the Lancers (18-1) rode the perimeter game with Olivia Vezaldenos and Ruby Daube and the domination in the paint by Donja Payne to a 49-30 non-league victory.
“There are a lot of good positive things are going on with our basketball team right now,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “They are excited and this was a good night. They understood that it is tough to come out and compete when there are all these festivities but they handled it well.
“But they got off to a slow start and Ripon came out and played well. They knocked down shots and they will do fine in their league.”
Vezaldenos – who lead all scorers with 20 points along with five steals and four rebounds – scored all of her team’s first quarter point as the Lancers led 9-6 after the first period.
“We worked together and played really hard,” Vezaldenos said.
After just two points in the first half, Daube (three assists) came to life in the third quarter with eight of her 13 points. Daube hit three from behind the arc.
“I struggled in the first half making my shots and my layups,” Daube said. “At halftime coach told us we needed to get our emotions out and play the game, so I came out and played the game I know how to play without hesitating.
“I just took it to the hole and shot open shots.”
Payne had a double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds and spearheaded a dominant defense that outrebounded Ripon 33-24 and had 13 steals.
“It’s nice because I had a size advantage out there,” Payne said. “And we worked as a team, had good passing and kept our fouls down.”
Karla Calderon had four 3-pointers for 12 points for the Indian (12-8) and Savannah Clark added eight points.
“The kids are playing well,” Ripon coach George Contente said. “We just didn’t have the height they had. We played hard the first half and we were right there, but their size showed up.
“We have to play a little bit better outside.”
This was Contente’s last Play in Pink game as after 21 years coaching he will be retiring after this season.
“It’s sad for me,” Contente said. “It’s time for me to retire.
“This game is a great thing and it has come such a long ways from when we started to what it is now. I don’t know what kind of money we made but I think we did pretty well this year.”
East Union 54, Ripon 43
Although the Indians placed three players in double figures, a balanced Lancers attack allowed East Union to pull away after a 23-23 halftime tie.
Ripon’s Kayhla Jacklich led all scorers with 15 points. Katie Kaiser chipped in 12 points and Nimrit Hayer 10.
Nina Murphy led the Lancers with 13 points. Nicole Noble, Kayla Montoya and Mariyah James added eight points apiece.
East Union 49, Ripon 22
The Lancers blanked the Indians in the first quarter and allowed just five points in the first half.
East Union’s Jaidyn Valencia earned high-point honors with 18 points, 10 of which came from the free-throw line. Teammates Chelsey Costa and Brianna Capps chipped in nine and seven points, respectively.
Maci Herrin led Ripon with 11 points.