East Union broke open a tie game late in the first quarter and ended the period on a 7-0 run, extending that run to 25-6 to close out the half on the way to a 66-28 Valley Oak League road win against Sierra.
Leading the charge in the first half for the Lancers (5-6 VOL, 16-8 overall) was Donja Payne, scoring 14 of her game-high 20 points in the first two quarters. Payne added eight blocks and eight rebounds.
It was a much-needed win for East Union, which had lost five straight league games but is still in contention for an at-large berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“We kept pushing hard and keeping the energy up,” Payne said. “We just wanted that ‘W’ really bad so we kept feeding off of each other.”
With Payne handling the inside, Ruby Daube took care of the outside for East Union with 18 points and seven assists.
“We came out really strong on offense and defense,” Daube said. “We didn’t let them take the lead so we didn’t have to play catch-up.
“The game was just coming to us and we all played well.”
Rainn Prieto scored four of her six points on back-to-back buckets for Sierra (1-11, 3-21) in the first period to tie the game at 10-10 with 2:28 left in the quarter. The Timberwolves would not score again until midway through the second period. Alison Edwards also had six points for Sierra, scoring four in the first quarter.
“I thought Sierra came out ready to play and they wanted to win it just as bad,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “One thing about coaching in this town is that you don’t have to say anything to get your girls fired up when you play an intra-district school. They like to play – a lot of them are friends – and they like to compete.
“I thought our defense was lights-out tonight and that kind of created the offense for us. We have been struggling and we have had some troubles with that in the middle of the season. This one was a good team win as we were able to play everybody.”
Every player on the Lancers squad had a statistic of some type, either a point, rebound, assist steal and or a block.
“It’s good when everyone can contribute to the win,” Agostini said. “Everyone wants to be a part of the team and put on the uniform, but not just sit, either. So for them to be able to come out and play and have something to do with the success of the team win is excellent.”
One of the East Union girls who made the best of her new-found playing time was Sukhdeep Kaur who grabbed five of her six rebounds in the second period and had a season-high total of four points.
“The team has supported me so much,” Kaur said. “It is because of them that I got those points tonight.”
Hailey Gosney added 10 points, five assists and five rebounds for the Lancers with teammate DeJohna Pryor chipping in four points and six rebounds.
Even going to the bench often East Union put up 35 points in the first half and 31 in the second half.
“Any defense we tried to run tonight we couldn’t execute,” Timberwolves coach Martha Spivey said. “We just couldn’t find a defensive flow – we gave up 66 points and you’re not going to win many games giving up 66 points.
“Payne really dominated – she scored 14 in the first half. She scored at will inside when we didn’t rotate properly and clamp down on her.”
Jasmin Correa grabbed 11 rebounds for Sierra and teammate Jaida Franklin had four rebounds.
East Union 50, Sierra 38
The Lancers held the Timberwolves to single digits in three quarters.
East Union’s Nina Murphy led all scorers with 21 points with teammate Sarah Gleockler adding 10 points.
Natalie Dias paced Sierra with 10 points followed by Dulce Cruz with nine.
Sierra 39, East Union 19
The Timberwolves’ Dominique White earned high-point honors with 16 points behind six points in the second and fourth quarters.
Dreama Diaz added seven points for Sierra and Madi Boyd six.
Jennifer Garcia led the Lancers with eight points and Aleena Moore had five.