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Missed opportunities in fourth haunt East Union
East Union’s Robert Vaughn draws contact from Sonora defender Jack Gardella while going up for a shot. For additional photos, see - photo by CHRIS LEONARD
Hampered by cold shooting down the stretch, the East Union High boys varsity basketball squad suffered a 56-53 Valley Oak League loss Wednesday to visiting Sonora.

The Lancers (3-2, 9-7 overall) had numerous opportunities to tie or surge ahead in the final minute, but missed opened shots coupled with a pair of free throws.

“We gave them game with our turnovers,” said East Union coach Brett Lewis.

His team was also outrebounded by the towering Wildcats front line led by 6-foot-7 Tayler Thompson, who accounted for 10 of Sonora’s 36 boards. By contrast, the Lancers managed just 15 rebounds, with Robert Vaughn and Teejay Gordon collecting four each.

East Union countered by hustling on defense and getting hot from the field. The Lancers consistently found the open man thanks to crisp perimeter passing, and connecting on eight 3s in the first half.

Gordon, Vaughn, Jordan Kron and Brandon Cline contributed baskets from beyond the arc.

Sonora (3-2, 8-8) jumped out to an early 11-5 lead by breaking the Lancers’ press defense for quick layups.

Down 19-11 after the first period, Gordon led East Union on a 10-2 run, driving the lane for basket and hitting a pair of treys. Sonora answered back with field goals by Alex Kiriluk, Jack Gardella and Andrew Austin.

The Lancers fought back from a 29-22 deficit on 3s by Gordon and Vaughn, who also connected on three free throws, tying the game at the half, 33-33.

Gordon and Vaughn paced East Union offense in the third, with both completing a pair of three-point plays to give their team a 47-43 lead entering the final quarter.

The Lancers’ offense unraveled soon after. As a result, Sonora surged ahead in an 11-2 run led by Kiriluk, who finished with a game-high 23 points.

Behind 54-49, East Union’s only points were a pair of Vaughn free throws.

The Lancers made the game close in the final two minutes on a pair of free throws by Zac Carillo, who also had a rebound to set up Vaughn’s basket.

With time winding down, they fouled Nick Mays to stop the clock only to be outrebounded on the missed free throw.

East Union’s last chance at a tie was a missed 3-point try.

“Our shooting just went cold,” Lewis said. “That’s after we shot the ball well in the first half.”

The Lancers will square off against rival Manteca on Friday.