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Senior scores 21; East Union keeps Rio scoreless in 4th
East Union High senior Krystal Young finds an opening toward the hoop while driving past Rio Americano defender Elizabeth Moulton in Tuesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener at Dalben Center. Young finished with 21 points to lead the Lancers. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
Clipping a double-digit deficit to five points to close out the third period seemingly put the Rio Americano girls basketball team in position to continue its season. Yet a perfectly executed defensive shutout in the fourth quarter proved to be the end of the Raider’s year in their 54-43 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Tournament loss to East Union Tuesday at the Dalben Center.

The seventh-seeded Lancers (23-5) conquered their first postseason task behind standout efforts from Krystal Young and Lexy Posz, pushing past No. 10 Rio Americano into the Division III tournament’s second round. Young led all scorers with 21 points and Posz finished with 19 to combine for 75-percent of East Union’s offense.

“When you get into these playoff games you go to your horses; you go to the girls that have been there and have been successful,” East Union head coach Jim Agostini said. “Those girls have had positive things happen to them in the past, so you go to them in these types of situations.

“I really liked the way that they played tonight.”

With Young and Posz providing the Lancers with a ton of offensive support, East Union was able to put the game way on the defensive end. After getting outscored 19 -18 in the third period, East Union held the Raiders without a point in the fourth, stopping a would-be Rio Americano comeback in its tracks.

“I think we just got tired in that fourth,” Rio Americano head coach Jeff Hart said. “We are not very deep, so our starters had to play way too many minutes.

“That’s tough, especially when you have to pick up on the defensive end to try and catch up.”

Rio Americano (18-9) held a two-point lead after one and looked to have enough offense to hang tight with the Lancers. East Union picked up its effort defensively, and Young and Posz continued to light it up.

Young walked into the intermission with 13 points, while Posz was in double-figures with 11. The pair would combine to score East Union’s first 11 points in the second half, yet would need each point with the Raiders continuing to fight.

“I thought it was very important to come out and have a good game,” Young said. “Since this is a playoff game and if you lose you’re out, we knew it was a must win. I just wanted to come out and play my best.

“The shots just happened to fall.”

When the shots didn’t fall the Lancers had the luxury of depending on the front-court dominance of Shalane Jackson and Rachel O’Neal. Jackson had a game-high 16 boards, while O’Neal pulled down 14. Their execution on the defensive glass played the biggest part in keeping the Raiders completely off of the scoreboard in the final period.

“I’ve always told the girls, when it gets down to crunch time you have to trust your fundamentals,” Agostini said. “We have to go back to the basics of blocking out, making sure we hold the team to one shot, making sure we’re getting out on the arc for a three point shooting team.

“I thought the girls did a fabulous job on all of that tonight.”

Now East Union will have to make a trip north to take on Del Oro, which beat No. 15 Galt 54-31. Del Oro, the No. 2 seed, finished its Sierra Foothill League scheduled 12-0 and is currently on a five-game winning streak.

“We just want to go in there and play our game,” Young said of meeting up with Del Oro. “We want to play how we know how to play, stick to the fundamentals and go up there and try to win.”

Tipoff in Loomis is scheduled for 7 p.m.