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Lancers look to hold turf
Undefeated home record, semifinal berth at stake as No. 5 El Dorado visits
GHOOP-Playoff preview file
Ashley Rose and the East Union Lancers will again defend their home floor tonight when they face El Dorado of Placerville for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III second-round playoff game. - photo by Bulletin file photo
Regardless of the outcome, East Union will smell home cookin’ for the last time this season tonight when El Dorado of Placerville visits for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III second-round playoff game.
The road warriors of Ripon Christian, meanwhile, will look score another upset as it heads to Turlock Christian in Division V action.
The Dalben Center and its fans have been a boost for No. 4 East Union (26-2) over the last two years, with only Hilmar beating the Lancers in a non-league contest last season on its home court.
East Union is trying to get into the semifinals for the first time since 1994. The Lancers have qualified for nine straight seasons but have gotten out of the opening round for just the second time.
“It’s just good to be able to play another game at home,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “The girls were excited about the atmosphere (Tuesday) night; the buzz inside the gym was a neat experience for them.
“But when you get to this point of the season, you’re playing against some really good teams. (El Dorado) has been successful, and they’ve obviously learned how to win games on the road. We feel comfortable at home and hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
The No.5-seeded Cougars (23-3), the Pioneer Valley League champions, are riding an 18-game winning streak that continued Tuesday with a 69-33 shellacking of No. 12 Ceres — one of two Valley Oak League rivals responsible for half of East Union’s two defeats.
And of those 18 victories, only one was by a single-digit margin. The closest game was against PVL foe Bear Creek, 52-45, in the regular-season finale.
Guard Cora Harms (11.6 ppg) is El Dorado’s lone starting senior, and junior post Mikeala Macklin leads the team with 12.4 points and 14.9 rebounds per game.
East Union is coming off a 75-61 opening-round win over Tri-County Conference champion Inderkum of Sacramento Tuesday. Senior standouts Ashley Rose and Rachel McDaniel fired in 27 and 25 points, respectively.
Agostini said he’s been in contact with Ceres coach Shawna Nunes to get a feel for El Dorado.
“They’re a big team with 6-footers across their front line,” Agostini said. “Hopefully we can dictate the pace of the game in our favor with our speed.”
The winner faces either No. 1 St. Mary’s or No. 9 Sonora next Wednesday at Galt High.
Ripon Christian (11-13), the No. 12 seeded team in the Division V, can also get into the semifinals with a victory over No. 4 Turlock Christian, the Southern League’s runner-up finisher.
The Knights stunned No. 5 Mountain Oaks Tuesday, 47-30.  
Turlock Christian (21-7) relies heavily on 5-foot-8-inch senior point forward Erin Santiago, a threat from anywhere on the court. She checks in with 14 poings, 7.9 rebounds a game and has also hit a team-high 46 points.
Ripon Christian must also be mindful of 5-9 junior wing Amy Wright (7.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg).