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With title clinched, EU rolls Hawks
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­CERES — East Union High’s girls basketball team has a funny way of showing appreciation.

Central Valley helped the Lancers clinch their fourth straight Valley Oak League championship outright Tuesday by upsetting second-place Sonora. Central Valley also stunned Manteca, which shares the second-place spot with Sonora, earlier this year.

East Union, however, had little trouble beating the dangerous Hawks 54-41 Thursday, even with standout sophomore forward Shalane Jackson resting from an injury for most of the game.

Jackson hurt her right foot in Tuesday’s 60-47 win over Weston Ranch Tuesday when the Lancers (13-1, 21-4 overall) did their part to guarantee at least a share of the title.

“It’s a nice luxury to have to be able to rest her,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said of Jackson, who played the first 2-3 minutes of the game. “It’s different getting ready for games that, as far as league goes doesn’t mean anything. It does for playoff seeding, and the girls are aware of that.

“It’s a good problem to have if you want to say it’s a problem.”

Senior Krystal Young led East Union with 18 points and seven assists. Lexy Posz added 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Brionna Fontenot had nine and seven.

Center Rachel O’Neal more than made up for Jackson’s absence in the post, finishing with seven points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and four steals.

The Lancers set the tone early despite a poor start on offense, taking a 10-4 lead into the second quarter when they erupted for 19 points.

“We threw out a whole bunch of defenses at them tonight and just tried to come at them from different angles, and I thought our girls responded well to that,” Agostini said. “Tonight our pressure defense was probably better than most nights that we’ve played. We didn’t shoot the ball too well but  that can be expected when we go on the road.”

East Union still has a lot to play for with just two games remaining in the regular season, and a loss could be disastrous for postseason positioning. The Lancers are currently No. 6 in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division III playoff ratings.

They play first-year varsity Lathrop Tuesday but will expect a test from intracity rival Manteca, which is also jockeying for a better playoff seed, two days later.

Two years ago, Manteca stunned East Union at home to sneak into the playoffs with the 16th seed and final playoff  berth, while the Lancers were forced to share the VOL title and were dropped from a possible first-round home game to the 11th seed.

East Union and Manteca split their first two games this year, with Manteca winning 52-47 in the Tracy Tournament and losing 59-49 when they met again in league.

— Jonamar Jacinto