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East Union knows little about TCC champion
Weston Ranch’s Denell Fox, left, and East Union’s Ashley Rose will lead their respective teams into tonight’s opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Fourth-seeded East Union hosts No. 13 Inderkum of Sacramento, while No. 11 Weston Ranch heads to Fairfield to face No. 6 Vanden. - photo by Bulletin photo
Jim Agostini isn’t pretending to have the book on Inderkum.
Instead of thumbing through notes and scouting reports Monday night, he was reviewing game film on his own team.
Agostini’s focus is on making sure his No. 4 East Union Lancers are on top of their game when they open the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs against Tri-County Conference champion No. 13 Inderkum of Sacramento tonight at Dalben Center.
“I don’t know that much about them, really,” the second-year Lancer head coach said. “All I know is they play in the Tri-County League and they’re the league champ. Usually you’re able to look at their schedule, call up a coach that you know played them and get some information. That’s not the case this time.”
If East Union (25-2) brings its “A” game, what little information it has on Inderkum (16-10) may not matter.
Like East Union, the Tigers don’t have a lot of height, with 5-foot-10 freshman Riana Byrd being the tallest. She is also Inderkum’s only double-digit scorer at 11.5 points per game to go with 11.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
East Union has a chance to host two playoff games for the first time in over a decade, and to win both is a reachable goal for the Lancers. After that, they’d likely have to go through Stockton-based juggernaut St. Mary’s to advance to the section finals.
The winner of tonight’s game will take on No. 5 El Dorado or No. 12 Ceres, which is one of five Valley Oak League teams in the Division III tournament. East Union has claimed at least a share of the last three VOL championships, and four of the last five.
“That’s something I’m real proud of, is that out of 16 teams we have five from the VOL,” Agostini said. “There’s not another conference in our division that has as many representatives.”
Also in the Division III bracket is Manteca Unified rival Weston Ranch (17-10), which qualified for the postseason for the first time in its fifth-year of varsity competition. The No. 11 Cougars head to Fairfield to take on No. 6 Vanden (24-2).
“It’s exciting,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said of preparing for the school’s first girls basketball playoff game. “All the work and the effort we’ve put in the last four or five years to get this point is paying off.
“There’s a bit of a buzz around school, and it’s just a fun and different feeling to be playing right now. Usually we’re turning in uniforms and talking about the summer by now.”
Bauer’s young team, which has just one senior, figures to be a huge underdog. Vanden is the sixth ranked team in the section according to, and the Vikings play an uptempo style that allows for balanced scoring.
Sophomore Erimma Amarikwa leads Vanden with 11.8 points per game, but three others average at least nine.
Bauer said his squad isn’t intimidated, taking its usual business-as-usual approach in practice Monday.
“They get up and down the court real well, but we like to play up and down, too,” Bauer said.
In Division V, No. 12 Ripon Christian (10-13) squares off with No. 5 Mountain Oaks (23-4) in San Andreas. Despite the disparity in wins, third-year head coach Kirk Tillema and his Knights have to like their chances.
Ripon Christian played a much tougher schedule throughout the season. In non-league play, the Knights blew out Big Valley Christian, 57-16. Mountain Oaks lost to the same team, 27-22.
The Eagles’ strength is in the post, where 5-10 forward Sierra Hampton (11.3 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.3 bpg) and 5-9 forward Chelsea Lund (10.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 5.1 spg) and 5-11 center Katie Messenger (6.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.1 bpg) lead the way.