It didn’t take Ashley Rose very long to find her effective range.
And once she zeroed in on the basket, there wasn’t much that the Armijo Indians could have done to stop the runaway East Union offense — which outscored their opponents in each of the first three quarters on their way to a 54-36 victory to cap off their preseason with a 13-0 record.
Rose ended up hitting five shots from beyond the 3-point line on her way to a 20-point night that allowed the Lancers to cruise to victory in their final game before the Valley Oak League season starts next week.
“From what the coach told us, there has never been a (girls basketball team at East Union) that’s finished the preseason undefeated, and that’s a big accomplishment,” Rose said following the game. “I got some open looks tonight and that gave me some chances to shoot those 3-point shots.
“It feels really good to be a part of a team that’s special like this, and I hope we can carry this over when it counts next week.”
Despite a relatively slow pace at the start of the game and a back-and-forth exchange with Armijo, which at one time in the first quarter held a four-point lead, the Lancers began to key on their top players and establish their offensive rhythm thanks to aggressive play by gamers like Lexi Posz and Rachel McDaniel.
Freshman standout Shalane Jackson dominated the post throughout the first half on her way to finishing the game with 10 points that only kept the East Union tempo moving right along.
Jackson also managed to pull down six rebounds and record two steals.
While Rose had the long shot dialed in, McDaniel found her range on the jump shot early as well and finished the game with marks in almost every category — including two rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block.
Seeing his team hit its stride as it heads into league was definitely a positive for head coach Jim Agostini, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that tit has hit its peak just yet.
“I think that the ladies definitely have something to be proud about in finishing the preseason undefeated,” Agostini said. “It gives them something positive to carry into the league season next week.
“We want to be firing on all cylinders, but we also know that we’re not playing the best basketball we can be playing right now — we have some things to work on, but we’ve got a lot going well for us right now.”
Rose also served a formidable force on defense by recording three steals and pulling down two rebounds.
Rounding out the scoring leaders for the Lancers were McDaniel with 11 points, and Jackson with 10 points.
When they take the court next week, the Lancers will be looking towards taking another step towards a VOL championship — which would be their third straight and their fourth in five years.
“It’s a great accomplishment — it’s something that I’ve never been a part of for as long I’ve been in this program,”
Agostini said. “We’ve gotten better this preseason, but the girls know that they have a big bull’s-eye on their back when we get into league play next week.
“We’re ready to handle that challenge.”
Despite dialing in their deep shots early on, the Buffaloes couldn’t make up enough ground on a Rio Linda team that went on an early 15-3 run.
After Manteca closed the gap with a 29-26 score at the half, one of Rio Linda’s top scorers opened up in the third quarter with 15 points of her own to only widen the gap further.
Despite landing eight 3-point shots, Manteca still didn’t have enough to crack Rio Linda’s early dominance.
“I was happy with how the girls played tonight,” head coach Andrea Hiatt said. “Our shots were on, but it was just a matter of playing the game — Rio Linda just finished with more points than we did.”
Morgan Salsedo and Kristi Llamas both hit four 3-point shots to keep Manteca in the game. Salsedo finished the game with 20 points, while Sharon Washington pumped in 15, and Llamas rounded out the leading scorers with 12.
Washington also had four assists and four steals.
With the loss, Manteca falls to 7-6, and will be back on the court Tuesday in Ceres to take on Central Valley in the first VOL game of the season at 7:15 p.m.