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Lancers handle Sierra, setting stage for 1st-place showdown with Kimball
Sierra-East Union girls basketball
Trinidad Forbing holds onto the ball after grabbing the defensive rebound for East Union, as Sierra’s Marissa Gonzalez (13) and Grace Langenfeld apply the pressure. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Coach Jim Agostini made certain his East Union girls basketball team would not overlook Sierra on Thursday.

His Lancers responded with one of their more complete efforts of the season, waxing their rivals 63-38 behind Taylor Snaer’s 24 points at Dalben Center.

“You have to respect Sierra,” Agostini said. “They’ve played us, Manteca and Kimball in very competitive games. We wanted to make sure that we were ready tonight, and the girls were.”

East Union (5-0, 18-4 overall) remains tied for first place with Kimball, its next opponent, atop the Valley Oak League. The Lancers are on an eight-game winning streak, and the latest victory is their 20th in a row against Sierra (1-4, 8-10). The Timberwolves last defeated EU on Jan. 10, 2014.

The last time they met, Snaer went off for 33 points in the league opener two weeks ago, but it was much tighter game with the Lancers prevailing, 57-50.

East Union was in control from the start and was unfazed by Sierra’s 1-3-1 zone defense headed by 6-foot center Abigail Chapman at the top. Snaer was still able to find ways to get the offense going for the Lancers, who had a 37-11 with 43 seconds left in the first half.

“We tried a little something different, we came out in a zone,” Sierra coach Rudy Valencia said. “Taylor had 30 or more points the last time we played them, and (on Thursday) they knocked down a lot of shots. I don’t know what their percentage was, but they made a lot of shots.

“On the flip side of it, I feel like we had a lot that kind of rattled in and out — it just wouldn’t sink for us. But that’s a tough team. They’re returning VOL champs for a reason. They’re well coached and disciplined.”

Supporting Snaer’s latest barrage was freshman Nylah Dyson, who drained three 3-pointers and finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Ava Barrera, another freshman, hit two 3s and turned in eight points and six rebounds.
Agostini was pleased with other role players who contributed in other ways, such as Trinidad Forbing (four steals, block), reserve forward Mariela Navarro (two points, six rebounds, three steals) and freshman Shebra Rezaye (three points, five rebounds, block).

One of the Lancers’ top highlights in the first half was Rezaye’s and-1 conversion after Snaer delivered her the ball for a fastbreak layup.

“They’re getting comfortable with the varsity speed,” Agostini said. “Taylor, Donnese and Trinidad are leading by example, and the younger players are just following their lead.”

Sierra was paced by Marissa Gonzalez (10 rebounds, three steals) and Taylor Zalmardo, who each scored 10 points. Twins Abigail and Alexandra Chapman grabbed 10 and nine rebounds, respectively.

The Timberwolves were without one of their best overall players, as Macey Allen is out with a knee injury.

“We knew we might not have her tonight,” Valencia said. “She has a great shot, she works really hard on defense and she’s a key part of our team.”

Both teams hit the road next Tuesday. Sierra will look to bounce back at Oakdale, while East Union has its big date with Kimball.