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Central Valley girls lose to East Union in playoffs
Adria Robinson (40) sets a screen for Central Valley teammate Blanca Espinoza (5) during a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game at East Union on Feb. 23. - photo by ZARIA GRIFFIN/

Central Valley High School's varsity girls basketball team lost 50-45 to East Union in preseason play on Dec. 23 in Ceres.

The Hawks traveled to Manteca to face the Lancers in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs last week.

Second-seeded East Union ended 15th-seeded Central Valley's season with a 65-47 victory at Dalben Center on Feb. 23.

"We didn't start playing until the second half - story of our whole season it seems like," Hawks head coach Jesse Padilla said. "We just pick and choose when we want to play sometimes."

The Lancers won their 17th straight game, improved to 27-1 on the year and earned the right to play No. 7 River Valley (23-4) in the second round of the playoffs. East Union captured the Valley Oak League title with a perfect 14-0 record.

Central Valley compiled an 18-8 record and claimed a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship (11-1).

"We understood what our goal was," said Mabie, who pointed out her team wanted to place first in the WAC standings. "It (success) brings you closer to your school and teammates. It's one of the greatest feelings. All of the hard work paid off."

Mabie managed to collect 13 points and five rebounds despite being slowed by foul trouble.

She picked up two fouls in the first period, had three by the midway point and a fourth with 3:45 left to play in the third.

Mikayla never left the game and didn't foul out.

Alyssa Costa, Central Valley's center, fouled out with 5 seconds to go in the third.

"I just told (Mabie) this is it, if you're out we're done," Padilla said. "Once she got into foul trouble like that she kind of backed off on the defensive side and that really hurt us. That just shows how far we drop off without her."

Hawk Adriana Haynes contributed 11 points and eight rebounds.

Alexis Contreras totaled 10 points and two blocks.

Adria Robinson added nine points and eight rebounds.

East Union star point guard Olivia Vezaldenos led all scorers with 27 points. She also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out seven assists.

Ruby Daube tallied 11 of her 14 points in the opening half.

Freshman Donja Payne had 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks.

"Olivia, she's good," Padilla said. "She's one of the best point guards I've seen around here in a long time next to Mikayla (Mabie). She shot lights out."

East Union beat Central Valley earlier this season thanks to a 12-7 run in the fourth quarter.

The Lancers seized control early during the rematch.

East Union limited Central Valley to just two points in the opening six minutes on its way to building a 15-6 lead in the first quarter.

The Hawks trailed 33-19 at halftime.

Central Valley used an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 37-27 in the third quarter.

"We knew what their bigs were going to do and we rotated pretty well on that, that was fine, but our missed layups early, our missed free throws early, that was kind of frustrating," Padilla said.

Central Valley enjoyed a memorable 2015-16 season.

The Hawks earned their fourth playoff berth, second straight, in program history.

Central Valley also captured its third conference title.

The Hawks had their 13-game winning streak snapped by WAC co-champion Livingston on the final day of the regular season.

"I'm so happy I ended up going to Central Valley," said Mabie, who spent her freshman year at Turlock High School. "It's been so much fun. I wouldn't want any other team. I literally got 10 sisters now. It's like having a second family."