The Valley Oak League’s reigning girls basketball MVP only got better for her senior season.
East Union guard Taylor Snaer was the unanimous choice for the league’s top honor for a second straight year after leading the Lancers to a third VOL championship in four years. The team went 9-1 in 2021, but there were no league titles at stake for any sport during the pandemic-shortened season.
East Union went 40-4 in league with Snaer and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals the past two years.
“She just finishes off her fabulous career at East Union with another championship team,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “She led the program to back-to-back NorCal appearances and took us to a place we have never been. With her track career, she leaves East Union as not just one of the best female athletes, but one of the best all-time athletes.”
Fellow Lancer guard Nylah Dyson joins Snaer on the all-league team. Manteca’s backcourt tandem of Marcelina Chaparro and Brianna Parker are two-time first-team selections. Buffs center Kerena Malone also made the first team. Sierra guard Emma Gilmore was voted onto the All-VOL first and defensive teams.
The all-league boys team includes Noah Lyons of co-champion Manteca and East Union’s four-year star, Dylan Lee. Central Catholic’s Malachi Miller is the boys MVP.
Agostini is the girls Coach of the Year, while East Union’s Dalton Ell and Sierra’s Eddie Morales split the award on the boys side.
Snaer averaged 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals and had four 30-point outbursts —three coming in succession and two in league wins over Oakdale and Sierra.
Her role evolved going into her final season. For three years, she had a skilled running mate in Lani Tu’uga, who was VOL MVP as a freshman. She transferred after her junior campaign, leaving Snaer with a mostly-young and inexperienced squad to mentor. Snaer had to step up as a primary scorer and all-around leader.
“That was a challenge for her,” Agostini said. “Taylor was always an underclassman who led by example, but we challenged her at the beginning of the year to be a little more vocal. Not that she wasn’t patient before, but she had to show patience with the underclassmen this year. She was an extension of the coaching staff.
“By the time we got to the middle of league play, she was talking with teammates and the underclassmen just watched and listen to everything she did and said. It’s a tribute to how far Taylor has come in her four years.”
One of those underclassmen was Dyson, a freshman who had to supplement Snaer’s scoring and playmaking. She averaged 14 points, three rebounds, two steals and two assists. The Lancers finished 9-1 in league and 24-7 overall.
Third-place Manteca (7-3, 19-8) was responsible for East Union’s lone blemish in league play.
Parker, who transferred from Sierra, led the Buffs with 9.3 points per league game. Chaparro checked in with 7.3 points, 2.9 assists and 2.8 steals. The 6-foot Malone contributed 7.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
Gilmore, a junior guard, enjoyed a breakout season for much-improved Sierra (4-6, 11-13). She paced the Timberwolves with 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game.
East Union junior center Doneese Payne (nine points, 14 rebounds) and Sierra senior Marissa Gonzalez (8.6 points, 7.3 rebounds) were named to the all-league second and defensive teams. Manteca’s Jada Ikharo also made all-defense, and Sierra’s Taylor Zalunardo got honorable mention.
The Manteca boys team (8-2, 23-7) captured a share of its first VOL championship since 2017. Lyons led the way with 12.2 points per league game. Second-team selections Ramesh Kabiri (6.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists) and Payton Nieman (8.4 points).
Lee is a two-time first-team selection for East Union (6-4, 18-11), which won its first postseason game since 2005. The 6-foot-2 guard/forward averaged 16 points, 3.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in league. Senior guard Anthony Sy (13 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 steals) earned a spot on the second team.
Anthony Grady represents Sierra (3-7, 12-13) on the All-VOL second team.
All-Defensive team selections from the area are East Union’s Ian Metcalf, Manteca’s Elijah Nelson and Sierra’s Jack Cunial. Getting honorable mention are Manteca’s Santiago Sanders, East Union’s Alex Cuevas and Sierra’s Josh Seals.