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Inderbitzin takes over, leads EU past Hawks
Corey Hardesty hits the deck for a rebound. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Don’t look now, but the East Union Lancers are putting together a nice little run.

After handling Ceres and taking Weston Ranch to the brink a week ago, East Union fought through a sloppy first half Wednesday to collect another win, this one 44-38 over fifth-place Central Valley.

With the win, EU (3-8 Valley Oak League) moved into a tie with the Hawks, and now has a chance to finish the VOL season with the respectable distinction as the best of the bottom half.

Ricky Inderbitzin was phenomenal Wednesday night, scoring 12 of his game-high 22 in a heart-pounding fourth-quarter in which the Lancers never led by more than a bucket until under a minute left.

Inderbitzin (4 assists) hit six of seven free-throws in the frame, handed out a picturesque assist for a three-point lead with 1:36 left, and nailed a critical baseline jumper at the midway point to put EU up by two.

He also hit the deck twice to corral two critical steals.

“We all started off bad as a team, but we knew if we could fight through it, we could beat this team,” Inderbitzin said. “Central Valley did a heck of a job, but I really wanted to win this game. We’re tired of losing, and we came out strong (in the second half).”

The first quarter was forgettable for the Lancers as Central Valley’s Keymonte Wooten handed out a pair of assists and drained a 3-pointer to put the Hawks up 13-4.

But T.J. Brown (6 points, 3 assists) hooked up Inderbitzin and Corey Hardesty (5 rebounds) on back-to-back buckets after nailing his own jumper to start the second and the Lancers found themselves down just three at 17-14 heading into the locker room.

The Lancers committed five turnovers in the third and 13 – mostly unforced – through three. But in the fourth, East Union only turned the ball over once, thanks in large part to Inderbitzin’s ball-handling and decision-making.

“We did it in crunch time, Ricky was the key,” EU head coach Eric Simoni said. “He hit the free-throws, he hit a couple of jumpers for us.  

“I’m happy with the way we’re playing right now. We came up with loose balls, and in the past we haven’t done that. It was ugly. But the thing that was gratifying for our team was that we’ve played ugly before and we haven’t won.”

Said Inderbitzin: “We want to be the most improved team, so we all came out tonight.”

East Union didn’t have a single offensive rebound in the first half, but collected three in the third as the momentum began to shift.

Inderbitzin set up Brown for a layup at the 4:36 mark of the third to give East Union its first lead at 19-17.

“It was a good win, we feel good about it,” Simoni said.

Wooten led the Hawks with 13. Greg Mathews added eight and Chris Beeler had seven.

Trevor Mew missed the contest, serving the second of a three-game suspension.

The Lancers travel to Sierra Friday.