TRACY — While one person may not make a team, sometimes the absence of that person may cripple a team. Such was not the case Thursday for East Union.
When junior three-year starter Donja Payne went down early in the game with Ripon it temporarily cast a shadow over the Lancers. East Union quickly gathered itself and went on to a 64-54 quarterfinal win in the Tracy Breakfast Lions/Tom Hawkins Girls Basketball Tournament at Tracy High’s Swenson Gym.
“When Donja went down that gave the opportunities for some other girls that haven’t gotten a lot of minutes so far this year,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “They stepped up and competed and ran transition, and tonight Jaha (Scott-Minor) took advantage of her opportunity.
“We battled to get enough loose 50-50 balls and our transition was good for us. It was tough for us to score at times but then we would knock down some shots. Every time they would get close we would bang a shot in.”
With the Indians (8-2) having taken the lead near the end of the third quarter and trailing 42-39 to start the fourth, Scott-Minor drew a charging foul to start the final period and scored five quick points as part of a 10-2 run for the Lancers (5-4) that put the game out of reach.
“I just knew that the team needed my help so I stepped up,” Scott-Minor said. “My friend was hurt so I stepped up for her.
“This felt good because Ripon is a big rival for us.”
Julia Vezaldenos (six steals, six rebounds and three assists) had the hot hand for East Union with 22 points behind four 3-pointers, two of which came on bank shots, as did a number of her other shots.
“I just let it go when I am open,” Vezaldenos said. “We had a lot of energy on the floor even after one of our best players got hurt.”
Hailey Gosney and Mariah James directed the offense for the Lancers with Gosney getting five points, six rebounds three assists and two steals and James netting 13 points along with five rebounds and two steals.
“I think it was a good team effort,” James said. “Without D (Payne) that kind of put everyone down for a minute but everybody stepped up, especially our post players.
“We were a lot faster team tonight.”
Turnovers dictated a big part of the game for Ripon with the Indians committing 13 first-half turnovers and trailing 28-20 at halftime. They went nearly four minutes without a turnover in the third period leading to their comeback but then had seven more the rest of the way.
“Turnovers can play a huge factor in our game,” Ripon coach Rick Inderbitzin said. “You have to give credit to East Union for their hard play that caused some of those turnovers on us today.
“Early on we had to struggle to score points that took away possessions from us and that gave them opportunities to score. I was happy that we made a little run in the third quarter but then we had some mental lapses.”
Mia Van Lewen and Reina Sausedo shared high-point honors for Ripon with 15 points apiece and Van Lewen pulled down a double-double with 10 rebounds. Tianna Sidtikun also had 10 rebounds.
The Lancers face Beyer of Modesto in a semifinal match tonight at 6:30 and the Indians square off with Patterson at 3:30 p.m. in a third-round contest.
Sierra 66, Modesto 34
The Timberwolves (5-6) allowed the Panthers (4-8) double digits in just one quarter.
“I am proud of the way we came out from the start,” Sierra coach Larissa Founts-Bergerson said. “We had the best ball movement we’ve had thus far. We need to continue this momentum and togetherness into league.”
The Timberwolves placed four in double figures with Jordan Hayter leading with 16 points behind three 3-pointers, Ray Prieto with 14, Lindsay Walljasper with 13 and Natalie Dias with 10.
Sierra has a consolation semifinal game at noon today against Tokay of Lodi.