Gyse Hulsebosch hit NBA-range 3-pointers, fall-away jumpers along the baseline and nearly everything else in between.
Not even visiting Sierra, a team that prides itself on lockdown defense, could extinguish East Union’s walking wildfire Friday night at Dalben Center.
Hulsebosch burned the Timberwolves for 42 points, and East Union, after leading by as much as 24, held off a late charge for a 75-70 victory that puts them alone in third place in the Valley Oak League. The top three teams earn automatic berths to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Hulsebosch is on an absolute tear of late, averaging 38.8 points in East Union’s last four games. In his latest explosion, the electric 5-foot-10 guard’s total ended up one point shy of Stephen Barrera’s single-game program record of 43 set in the 2002-03 season.
“I’m just playing basketball,” Hulsebosch said. “I’m not trying to do anything special.”
Special? Sierra coach Scott Thomason called him “sensational” and “probably the best player in our league.”
Hulsebosch gave the Lancers (7-4, 15-9 overall) their largest lead at 44-20 in the final minute of the second quarter. Sierra (4-7, 13-10), which was slowed by foul trouble in the first half, came out with better energy to start the third but couldn’t gain much ground with Hulsebosch accounting for all 12 of his team’s points in the period.
Hulsebosch drained six 3-pointers for the night, was 14 for 18 from the free-throw line and led all Lancers with nine rebounds.
“He hit tough shots and deep 3s — he’s been doing that all year,” Thomason said. “If he just didn’t go off like that we might have had a chance. Hats off to him and hats off to East Union.”
Blake Greenlee contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for East Union. Hulsebosch was slow to start with Sierra hell-bent on keeping him in check, but P.J. Gill helped get the Lancers going with six of his eight points — all on jumpers from the top of the key — in the opening period. Scott Morenzone also gave EU a lift off the bench, banking in a 3 and scoring on a put-back on consecutive possessions late in the first half.
The Lancers were well ahead 44-22 at the break.
Sierra, meanwhile, stumbled out the gates because of fouls. Starting guards Bikram Thiara (four points) and Jamie Ochoa (15 points, three assists, three steals) were each assessed a technical and both sat with three fouls apiece for much of the half. Thomason was also tagged with a technical.
“Can’t get down 22 on someone’s home court,” Thomason said. “We fouled too much. We lost a little poise there.”
He was proud of how his Timberwolves made things interesting down the stretch. They went on a 33-point scoring binge in the fourth quarter and forced 12 turnovers with their stifling press defense. Victor Elijah (15 points, 10 rebounds) made a layup with 1:20 to go to close Sierra in, 65-59.
East Union was able to seal it from the free-throw line, with Jesse Anzar converting four straight and Hulsebosch making 5 of 6.
Recent sophomore call-up Miguel Sequeira chipped in 10 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost three straight and three of their last four meetings with East Union.
“In the first half we were moving the ball, we were making the extra pass, we were knocking down shots,” East Union coach Ryan Tarr said. “I don’t know if anything went right in the second half. Their press gave us all kinds of problems. We got careless with the ball and that has been a problem for us often this year.
“I’m just happy we won, but we have to play better defense, that’s for sure. They beat us to the ball and we were standing there watching.”
East Union 71,
Sierra 66 (OT)
It turns out Hulsebosch was one-upped by one of East Union’s lower-level standouts Friday.
Jojo Espinoza helped the Squires overcome a 13-2 first-quarter deficit by amassing 43 points in an overtime thriller. He shot 23 for 25 from the free-throw line. Daniel Ruiz added 13 points.
John Elijah led Sierra with 22 points, Jesse Ortiz-Martinez had 17 and Jaedon Malone scored 10.