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Del Oros size, speed overwhelm East Union
East Union senior center Rachel O'Neal stands her ground before grabbing an offensive rebound. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
LOOMIS — Del Oro was too tall, too fast and just flat out too good.

The second-seeded Golden Eagles will make their fourth consecutive appearance in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs semifinal round after routing No. 7 East Union 66-33 Thursday.

The win was the 504th in the decorated career of Del Oro head coach Mike Takayama, one of just 13 in California to hit the 500 barrier in girls basketball.

East Union coach Jim Agostini himself has continued a tradition of excellence by leading the Lancers (23-6) to their fourth straight Valley Oak League championship and 10th consecutive postseason appearance.

But Agostini realizes that Del Oro (25-4) plays at a different level and will look to emulate what Takayama has done over the years.

“There is no shame in losing a game of this magnitude against a team like that,” Agostini said. “This program right here, as far as I’m concerned, is a model program. If you’re a public school and you want to consistently win and go deep in this tournament, you want to be like them.

“For me to win 500 I’d have to be coming out here with a cane years from now. (Takayama) just does a great job, and you tip your hat off to him. He has a great basketball team.”

That was proven early.

Del Oro mustered just two points over the game’s first three minutes. Then the Golden Eagles were off to the races, mounting a 21-3 lead by the end of the first quarter and were ahead comfortably 36-13 at halftime.

East Union struggled with Del Oro’s brand of on-ball pressure that it hadn’t seen all year and committed nine of its 25 turnovers in the opening period. The Golden Eagles’ impressive frontline height, pinpoint passing and all-around skill were also overwhelming.

“We looked at our game film from our (first-round) Rio Americano game, and we really pushed the ball well against them,” Agostini said. “This team here just made us look like we were in quicksand.

“We somehow have to find a way to raise the level a little bit more.”

Del Oro’s top players did all their damage in three quarters. Crystal Sewell, a 5-foot-10 forward, poured in 15 of her 22 points in the first half. Madeline Campbell, a 5-11 wing, added 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals; and 6-1 center Belle Obert shredded East Union in the post to the tune of 14 points, 12 boards and eight blocks.

Del Oro will tangle with No. 3 Sacramento Wednesday at Cosumnes River College in Elk Grove. Sacramento trounced No. 6 El Dorado, 70-42.

“We came out with more energy tonight than we have in quite a while,” Takayama said. “We had a pretty easy time in league and we started to take things for granted.

“We really didn’t play all that well in the first round (54-31 over Galt), but tonight we were able to get East Union on their heels early.

“We knew they would be very disciplined, so to come out the way we did was huge for us.”

Lexy Posz capped her stellar junior campaign with 15 points (four 3-pointers) and six rebounds for East Union. Sophomore Shalane Jackson chipped in with nine points. Seniors Krystal Young (four points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals) and Rachel O’Neal (two points, eight rebounds) were fearless throughout.

“It’s always hard to see your seniors go, and that’s the tough part about coaching high school,” Agostini said. “As for the everyone else, they look forward to (next year). Now we get to start over, lace it back up and see what we have.”