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Rising Star
Super soph Olivia Vezaldenos building a legacy at East Union
East Unions Olivia Vezaldenos - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Olivia Vezaldenos has the type of talent not typically seen on the high school hardwood but more on blacktops and playgrounds.

The East Union sophomore floor general still emerged as one of the area’s top point guards by putting her stellar ball-handling and passing skill on display – not to mention her God-given scoring ability.

In her second varsity season, Vezaldenos averaged 18 points and four rebounds a game and her field goal (45.8) and free-throw percentages (72.4) were nothing less than impressive in Valley Oak League.

She had 12 league games where she tallied double figures in scoring and half of those she poured in 20 or more. Vezaldenos’ season high — which was also a VOL high for the year — was a 40-point showing during a 61-56 victory over cross-town rival Sierra at the Timberwolves’ gym Feb. 11.

“That Sierra game I started to feel it,” said Vezaldenos. “My shots were falling and my teammates were finding me. I definitely got into a little groove at the end of the season.”

The Lancers finished the preseason 10-4 and headed into VOL where they lost four of their first five games.

East Union (9-5 VOL, 19-9 overall) faced heavy adversity and started league play 1-4 — three of which were losses by five or less.

“We had a great season,” said Vezaldenos, who averaged 4.3 assists and four steals in VOL. “It was definitely a rough start and not what we expected. We lost our first three and people start looking at your record. They weren’t (looking at) the score or how we lost. We didn’t want to be that team at the bottom, and we had to turn things around.”

The Lancers closed the season by winning eight of their last nine, including their last six prior to opening up postseason play. Vezaldenos and freshman power forward Loretta Kakala had plenty to do with that success.

Kakala averaged 15 points per game and had seven double-doubles in VOL. She was also a big reason Vezaldenos produced in the manner she did.

“We were able to play a lot more in open space,” East Union head coach Jim Agostini said. “We had some good players that had to be respected and Olivia took advantage of that. She was just explosive.”

Electrifying, too.

Vezaldenos’ street-ball style was flashy, but consistent.

She excelled from the 3-point line and made drastic improvements compared to her initial season at varsity.

Vezaldenos has the potential to be one of the top point guards to come out of East Union in recent history.

According to coach Agostini, the last girls basketball player from EU to go for more than 40 in VOL was Christin Gowan (class of 2007), who poured in a 42 points performance her senior year.

Vezaldenos is already being mentioned in the same sentence as Gowan, Rachel McDaniel and Ashley Rose – all former Lancer guards who once won the Bulletin’s All-Area MVP award.

But none of those girls earned this award as an underclassman.

“We’ve had some good players over the years at East Union,” Agostini said. “I’ve been in the program for 15 years, and how Olivia played down the stretch for us, I don’t think nobody that we’ve had could match that.”

Maybe not even Gowan, who went on to star at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock for four years before landing the assistant head coaching position for the Warriors’ women’s basketball squad.

Vezaldenos has a determined work ethic and has already returned to the gym.

She’s currently playing travel ball with Kakala and a other teammates under her father Matthew’s instruction while getting ready for summer league slated to begin at the end of May.

“My dad and coach (Rich) Posz are coaching girls from our school,” Vezaldenos said. “We have practice two days a week and usually have tournaments in Sacramento. I would do a spring sport like track, but I just want to focus on basketball and next year.”

Vezaldenos currently has a 4.17 high school GPA and plans on attending a Southern California university such as UC Irvine or UCLA when it’s time to cross that bridge.

For now, though, she’ll concentrate on trying to win a VOL title next year and dethrone the current champ Kimball.

Vezaldenos led the Lancers to the playoffs and a first-round home victory over Placer, 53-49.

“Our home playoff game was great and so loud,” Vezaldenos concluded. “It was a great environment.”

East Union’s run came to a halt in the second round against top-seeded Vanden-Fairfield, 81-40.

But never the less, Vezaldenos seems to enjoy the high school experience at EU, which was also her dad’s alma mater (class of 1993).

She represents East Union with pride and dazzle. Her cross-over dribble is as deadly as her ability to distribute, push and shoot the rock. The Lancers’ fan base will get to witness Vezaldenos put on shows at Dalben Center with the type of street-ball style only seen on And1 Mixtapes for the next couple of years.