The Lancers are back on top, and they could be there for awhile.
Freshman Lani Tu'uga has been voted the Valley Oak League's Most Valuable Player after leading East Union to its first championship in four years, but she is not alone. Older sister Ala, a sophomore, earned a second straight selection to the all-league first team, which also includes freshman guard Taylor Snear.
Five Lancers total made the all-league list, with Jim Agostini taking Coach of the Year honors. He guided East Union to its sixth VOL title in his 13 years as head coach.
The Lancers went 11-1 in league and 25-5 overall, winning three of their four match-ups against then-reigning co-champions Kimball (10-2, 23-7) and rival Manteca (9-3, 20-8). Their lone defeat was to Kimball on the road, 65-49, but that was avenged with a 68-43 statement win. East Union went on to complete its season sweep of Manteca 66-59 in the regular-season finale, clinching the outright crown in the process.
Lani Tu'uga wrapped up her remarkable rookie campaign in the VOL with an all-around gem at Manteca's Winter Gym, accumulating 22 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. The versatile point guard averaged 13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists in league contests.
Ala Tu'uga, who plays in the post, contributed 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds. Snaer was the Lancers' second-leading scorer in league at 14 points per game, making a team-high 25 3-pointers.
Junior guard Kyshanti King was named to the All-VOL second team. The only upperclassman on EU's starting five was the team's scoring leader with 15.4 points per game. She also averaged 7.3 rebounds and was a spark plug defensively and in transition. Sophomore Lauren Pablo made the all-defensive team.
Manteca guards Jayda Jackson and Kyaira Jacobs earned first-team spots. Both reached career milestones this past season, surpassing the 1,000-point barrier. It's the third straight first-team selection for Jacobs, a junior who averaged 15.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals. Jackson, a fourth-year starter, checked in at 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds and made all-league for the second time.
Third-year guard Jennalyn Laminero represents Weston Ranch (2-10, 11-15) on the first team, while freshman Briana Parker is a second-team selection for Sierra (4-8, 15-13).
Area players getting honorable mention: Manteca senior post Paige Peterson, Manteca senior guard Marissa Serrano, Weston Ranch senior guard Dearri Ross and Sierra freshman guards Makayla Kakala and Marcelina Chaparro.
Manteca's Jaslyn Woods, Weston Ranch's Darnaysha Huff and Chaparro join Pablo on the all-defensive team.
MVP — Lani Tu’uga, East Union, Fr.
Coach of the Year — Jim Agostini, East Union
First team — Jayda Jackson, Manteca, Sr.; Kyaira Jacobs, Manteca, Jr.; Taylor Snaer, East Union, Fr.; Cayia Sims, Kimball, Fr.; Ala Tu’uga, East Union, So.; Jennalyn Laminero, Weston Ranch, Sr.
Second team — Dariana Willis, Kimball, Sr.; Kyshanti King, East Union, Jr.; Brianna Parker, Sierra, Fr.; Tessa Gallo, Central Catholic, Jr.; Giana Riley, Kimball, So.
Honorable mention — Paige Peterson, Manteca, Sr.; Aidyn Hill, Oakdale, So.; Marissa Serrano, Manteca, Sr.; Dearri Ross, Weston Ranch, Sr.; Katherine Juarez, Central Catholic, So.; Makayla Kakala, Sierra, Fr.; Marcelina Chaparro, Sierra, Fr.; Maddy Jones, Oakdale, Jr.
All-defensive team — Marcelina Chaparro, Sierra, Fr.; Lauren Pablo, East Union, So.; Jaslyn Woods, Manteca, Jr.; Arianna Rodriguez, Kimball, So.; Darnaysha Huff, Weston Ranch, Sr.