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GIRLS HOOPS: Payne’s 31 points, defense propel EU past Weston Ranch
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East Union’s girls basketball team tightened up on defense and continued to feed the hot hand in its Valley Oak League opener against visiting Weston Ranch on Wednesday.
The result was a 62-39 victory, the fourth straight for the Lancers and 10th in their last 12.
Leading 32-26 at halftime, East Union (1-0 VOL, 10-5 overall) went on a 16-5 run in the third quarter to break away. Weston Ranch (0-1, 7-8) was limited to just 13 points in the second half after scoring 15 in the first period alone.
“I just thought our defense got more engaged as the game progressed,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said.
And there was no stopping 6-foot-2 center Donja Payne on the other end of the floor. The fourth-year starter had her way in the paint, amassing 31 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks before she was benched midway through the fourth quarter.
Ala Tuuga contributed 12 points.
“Donja had a stellar night,” Agostini said. “It’s one of those nights you’re glad that she’s on your team. We were able to move the ball around a little bit and it ended up in her hands. She had a lot of opportunities and shot a very high percentage.
Darnaysha Huff and Zahbria Hendrix led Weston Ranch with nine points each.

Manteca 59, Central Catholic 33
MODESTO — The Buffaloes (1-0, 10-6) started VOL play with a solid road win, leading 30-14 at halftime while winning every quarter.
Sophomore guard Kyaira Jacobs netted 13 points, Marissa Serrano had 12 and Jayda Jackson contributed nine. Tessa Gallo poured in 15 for Central Catholic (0-1, 13-4)
“They’re bigger than us but we were able to hold them to one shot and get them to play uptempo with us,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “Defense was the key tonight.”

Kimball 43, Sierra 32
Sierra (0-1 VOL, 10-5 overall) could not overcome an early deficit as the reigning co-champion Jaguars (1-0, 12-3) shot out to a 23-15 halftime advantage.
“We know we can’t let teams get the jump out ahead on us,” Sierra coach Larissa Founts-Bergerson said. “At any given night in the VOL I believe it’s anyone’s game. We have to play our best every night and do the little things.”
Jordan Hayter and Natalie Dias paced the Timberwolves with 10 and nine points, respectively.