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East Union comes up short with 10-point comeback
East Union guard Justin Nieto dribbles to the wing but is met by Lathrop defender Andrew Kovanis. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

After putting itself in the best possible position to win their first-ever Valley Oak League game, Lathrop forfeited its 10-point lead and needed to fend off a stubborn East Union club in a 42-40 win Tuesday at Dalben Center.

Marcus Conley grabbed an offensive rebound and put Lathrop up with a bucket with 8.8 seconds remaining. The Lancers would get one last chance, driving the length of the court and getting off a 3-pointer that fell harmlessly to the court.

“I almost didn’t have enough timeouts,” Lathrop head coach Bill Slikker said. “I save them all for that fourth quarter, because I knew something was going to happen.

“But to credit our kids, they have never been here before — ever.”

Slikker has basked in the brightest of the VOL’s sun, capturing a league title during his tenure as head coach at Weston Ranch. But the Spartans had never tasted a league win. Building the 10-point lead proved to be the easy part. Sustaining it was the challenge.

Lathrop (1-0 VOL, 8-5 overall) asserted in the ball game early, suffocating the Lancers on the defensive end by holding them scoreless in the first quarter until a Brandon Cline 3-pointer with less than 15 seconds in the first.

Offensively, Lathrop didn’t need much more than they accrued in the first three quarters, outscoring East Union in the third quarter 19-11 to seemingly put the game away. Conley, Joseph Sausau and Mikey Pereznegron shared the scoring load for a Lathrop group that distributes the ball to every player on the court.

Lathrop did an excellent job chasing Cline around, holding him to a pair of first half 3s and another two makes in the second half. Inside Lathrop got strong showings from Darius O’Conner and Conley, battling for four quarters against the lengthier Lancer front court.

Pereznegron finished with eight points, all in the second half, and Robert Orantes was the only Spartan to finish in double figures with 10. East Union was led by Cline’s 12, and Alex Del Real added eight.

Lathrop will try and make it two straight when they host Sonora Friday, while the Lancers will try and get things right with a trip to Sierra.

“I have to credit Marcus there, because I ripped him for shooting that ill-advised 3-pointer with about a minute left and then he comes back and works to get that rebound,” Slikker said. “We talked about preseason being preseason, but tonight being when it matters.

“To come in here at East Union and get our first win was a big ego boost for us.”


East Union 57, Lathrop 45

The Lancers opened the league season on the right foot, fending off the visiting Spartans in a 12-point VOL win.

Jordan Perry led a trio of Lancers in double figures with 15, Eric Lewis and Joe Menzel followed with 11 and 10, respectively.

Lathrop was led by Mykhail Redman’s 16 and followed by Nilo Yuson’s 10.