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Sierra gets even with rival EU, winning in overtime
East Union-Sierra boys basketball
Sierra’s Daniel Rushing (5) drives past East Union’s Ian Metcalf. - photo by Dave Campbell

With Sierra leading by two points in overtime, Emil Esperanza stepped in front of an East Union in-bounds pass with 59 seconds remaining and went the distance for a layup.

That was all the points the host Timberwolves would need Friday night in a thrilling 58-53 Valley Oak League boys basketball win in what could best be described as a raucous playoff atmosphere.

“I’m always a hustler,” Esperanza said. “Time was running down, so I went for that pass.

“I knew he was going to bounce pass it because he had done it before.”

Just prior to Esperanza’s steal, Joshua Seals put Sierra (1-4 VOL, 10-10 overall) ahead for good at 53-55 with a towering 3-pointer. Seals scored five points in the extra period and led all scorers with 20 points behind a pair of 3s.

“When I hit that 3, I felt great,” Seals said. “Especially knowing that was one of the biggest shots in the game. It felt amazing leaving my hand.

“It was crazy tonight. It was loud and hard to hear each other out there, but we were locked in and came out with the win.”

The Timberwolves’ Anthony Grady (14 points) sent the game into overtime with a three-point play to tie the game at 49-49 with 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Esperanza (11 points) grabbed a rebound with 2.1 seconds left to secure the tie and force overtime. 

When the two teams met in the VOL opener at Dalben Center on Friday, Jan. 6, the Lancers (3-2, 14-8) embarrassed the Timberwolves with a 52-23 thumping.

“We lost the last game with these guys by a lot,” Grady said. “We came in here with some fire and we kept the energy up.

“We heard the crowd, but we don’t play for the crowd. We play for each other.”

Sierra coach Eddie Morales had the earlier meeting between the two teams on his mind, as well.

“It was fun,” Morales said. “Our energy level and composure was a lot different than the first time we played them. I think they were embarrassed by that performance.

“In reality, our record doesn’t show how good we are. We are a lot better than how we have played, and we are ready to show it. Now it is just time to back it up.”

Anthony Sy led East Union with 16 points. Alex Cuevas added 14 points and Dylan Lee 11.

Starting with the end of the junior varsity contest, the gym was at a deafening fever pitch with did not subside through the entire varsity game.

“The game was loud,” Lancers coach Dutch Ell said. “They had a lot of people show up. This game definitely had league intensity. We talk at practice on how to defend certain sets and it hurts when you don’t do that. That kind of killed us today.

“We got some good looks, but we just couldn’t get the ball in the hole. They got to the middle when they needed to, and that’s what kind of drove our help defense in, and then they got some open looks for 3s. Credit to them for hitting some shots they needed to. It’s a good win by them, but we will be all right.”

Wednesday night at 7:30, East Union hosts Kimball and the Timberwolves host Oakdale.


Junior varsity

Sierra 53, East Union 47

After A.J. Chapman gave the Timberwolves the lead at 49-47, the Lancers never found the basket again.

Lucas Dimas came up big down the stretch for Sierra with a layup, rebound and a steal in the final 1 minute, 15 seconds. With 14.2 seconds remaining, Joseph Fortes grabbed two offensive rebounds for the Timberwolves and converted one for the final basket of the game.

John Estrada led Sierra with 15 points and Collins Schluer added 11.

Drew Kalin paced East Union with 10 points. Sergio Quezada chipped in nine points and Robbie Espinoza eight.