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East Union stuns Ceres
East Union delivered a crushing blow to the Ceres High varsity boys basketball team's playoff hopes with a 50-45 upset win Friday night at Phil de la Porte Gym.

The Lancers executed their game play to perfection, stymieing Bulldogs' 6-foot-7 standout wingman Brett Sayad with a box-and-one defense. Cody Lee shadowed the Stanislaus District's second-leading scorer while his teammates played zone. Sayad finished with a season-low seven points, 15 below his average.

"It's very frustrating," said Brett, who poured in a game-high 24 points in a 48-47 win over East Union at the Dalben Center on Jan. 23. "When they took me away, they took away our offense. They did a good job of denying me the ball. They were getting away with holds and the referees weren't calling anything."

Added Ceres assistant coach Jim Pernetti: "They played real physical and took our leader away."

Marcus Hilgen managed to tally a team-high 16 points for the 5-5 Bulldogs despite being slowed by a left ankle sprain. Lance Hunter, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward-center, scored 14 points. Thomas Vanderlaan and Devaun McGregor contributed four points each.

East Union (2-8) had a host of contributors. Eugene Alston led the way with 12 points. Sophomore Tyler Bylow tallied nine points. Lee and Nick Konradi netted eight points apiece. Garrett Jones and sophomore Ricky Interbitzen chipped in six points each. Marshall Swift added one point.

"That's a decent team," Pernetti said. "They got good athletes. But at the same time, we should have beat them."

Ceres, which trailed 22-19 at halftime, fell behind by as much as 10 points in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs got within two points four times in the fourth quarter. Hunter scored inside to make it a 45-43 game with 35 seconds remaining.

The Lancers made five of six free throws to seal the victory. East Union shot 62 percent (16-for-26) from the foul line for the game.

Sayad was held scoreless in the second half until he capped the contest with an uncontested, two-handed dunk at the buzzer.

The mood in Ceres High's locker room was somber.

"It was quiet," Pernetti said. "We talked about playoffs. That picture is probably gone. We have to win out and get some help."

East Union dealt Ceres High its third straight loss.

"This is big," Sayad said. "They knocked us out of playoff contention. It could be tough to get back in. We're right on the bubble."

The Bulldogs opened the VOL season with a 5-2 record.