East Union is peaking at just the right time.
Will the improved play be good enough for the Lancers to earn a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff home game? They’ll find out tonight.
Until then they’ll enjoy their impressive finish to the regular reason punctuated by Tuesday’s 64-53 win over Central Catholic at Dalben Center. East Union (10-4, 19-7 overall) ends up third in the Valley Oak League after winning eight of its last nine contests. The Lancers are making their 14th postseason appearance in the last 15 years.
“Things just kind of came together for us and the girls have played some real solid basketball down the stretch,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “I’m not too sure too many knew we had that in us.
“It’s a great night for our team, great night for our program. The girls wanted to keep the tradition (of playoff appearances) going.”
The Lancers were slow to get rolling coming out of their senior night ceremony. They were able to distance themselves from Central Catholic (3-11, 9-18) with a 21-point second quarter and led 33-20 at halftime.
“There were some emotions tonight because it’s a very tight team,” Agostini said. “It was a special night for our seniors and the rest of the girls wanted to make sure the seniors were sent off right.”
Two of those seniors owned the post Tuesday, as 6-foot-1 center Rena Dragony turned in 12 points and 12 rebounds while 5-10 power forward Anna Wood grinded out 15 and 10. Guards Ruby Daube and Olivia Vezaldenos added 14 and 13 points, respectively. Daube was a perfect 8 for 8 on free throws. As a team, East Union made 20 of 22 attempts from the foul line.
Central Catholic was anchored by a pair of 5-9 sophomores, with Daniel Friedrich pouring in 26 points and Alexandra Candelario firing 18.
“She’s legit,” Agostini said of Friedrich. “She was tough to guard and Central Catholic and she was just as tough at our place. Central is a good team. They may only have three wins (in league) but it’s an extremely young team.”
Weston Ranch 41
In Stockton, a sloppy start to the second half ultimately did Weston Ranch (11-3, 20-6) in against the two-time VOL champion Jaguars (14-0, 27-0). The Cougars turned the ball over on each of their first five possessions to help Kimball mount a back-breaking 12-0 run. It was otherwise a competitive game.
Elisabeth Alexander finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Weston Ranch. Victoria Gulley contributed 11 points and 15 rebounds. Both players were honored for senior night. Kimball sophomore Donwanae Anthony topped all scorers with 20 points.
Sierra 44, Lathrop 29
In Lathrop, the Timberwolves (5-9, 9-17) used a 16-3 flurry in the second quarter to race away from the host Spartans (2-12, 7-20). Sierra was ahead 23-7 at halftime.
Senior Kristen Maestretti scored 12 of her 15 points in the first half, while Kayla Wilson hit two key 3s in the fourth and finished with 10 points.
Lauren Collins (seven points) and Danya Phillips (five points) managed to play in Lathrop’s season finale after sustaining injuries that kept them out of action for the last three weeks.
Oakdale 46, Manteca 39
Manteca’s postseason hopes took a hit with Tuesday’s stunning loss at Winter Gym. The Buffaloes (8-6, 16-11) dropped four of their last five regular-season contests and are crossing their fingers for an at-large berth.
Oakdale (3-11, 5-21) surged in the fourth quarter after Manteca’s standout Loretta Kakala was ejected for fouling a Mustang on a breakaway layup. The 6-foot-2 post finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Elizabeth Tolbert contributed nine points and six rebounds.
Lathrop 41, Sierra 32
The Spartans battled back from a four-point deficit down the stretch and rallied past visiting Sierra, which didn’t do itself any favors by missing 26 free throws.
Alex DeAguila (nine points), Julianne Justo (eight points) and Shelia Mertilen (eight points) spearheaded Lathrop’s balanced attack. Vanessa Padilla registered a game-high 15 points for Sierra.
East Union 64,
Central Catholic 54
Haley Gosney amassed 21 points as East Union (9-5, 16-9) capped a winning season on a high note. DeJohna Pryor and Alaina Haena added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Lathrop 55, Sierra 31
The Spartans made school history on the same night that freshman head coach Danielle Wiseman celebrated her birthday. They became the first Lathrop High team to go undefeated (25-0) in a season for any sport at any level.