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Spartans squeak past game EU

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Kaysey Matela converts the layup for Lathrop early in the third quarter ahead of East Union’s Kayla Montoya.


POSTED January 5, 2018 1:33 a.m.

Playing from behind is nothing new for battle-tested Lathrop, and on Thursday the Spartans had to gut out a 54-51 win at East Union after trailing for much of the game.

The host Lancers (1-1 Valley Oak League, 7-6 overall) had a chance to tie it in the end, but Destiny Torio was well off the mark on a deep three-point attempt from the right wing at the buzzer. 

“That was a good win, because we know East Union will always be ready and is well coached,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “The VOL is going to be tough. We know that Manteca, East Union and Kimball are coming and we’ll be ready.”

Lathrop (2-0, 9-4) has established itself as one of the teams to beat through the first week of league action, and East Union coach Jim Agostini by his team’s effort. 

“Whether we won or lost tonight no one was going to win a league title,” Agostini said. “The bright side is that we played a very competitive game. A different bounce of the ball here or there and you never know.”

He was minus 6-foot-2 standout center Donja Payne for a fourth straight game. She sprained an ankle in the second round of the Tracy Breakfast Lions/Tom Hawkins Tournament last week and is expected to be out for another week.

Kayla Montoya, who is 5 inches shorter, did her best Payne impersonation, amassing 16 points and 21 rebounds. She had a buzzer-beating put-back at the end of the first half that gave East Union a 24-22 lead. Torio contributed 13 points and five assists, while Julia Vezaldenos chipped in nine points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

“I just tried to put everything I got into this game,” Montoya said. “I wanted to win.”

The Spartans overcame early shooting woes and foul trouble for the victory. They did not score until 3 minutes, 20 seconds into the contest and trailed 16-10 with 4:30 left in the second period. Their top player, senior guard Myani Thornton, picked up her second foul late in the first quarter and played with four in the final 4:33.

Fellow senior captain Semajynique Steen helped pick up the slack, pouring in 14 points and 13 rebounds. 

“It’s a team effort,” Steen said. “When a player is down we just step up as a team. It falls on the leaders to get us to come together as a team and pick each other up. Just because one player is down it doesn’t dictate the game.” 

Reserve center Kryshara Gary scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter, Khiya Thornton added eight points of her own and Rylene Crull posted six points and seven rebounds.

Myani Thornton still managed to affect the outcome despite being limited by fouls. She turned in 10 points, three steals and three blocks and buried a clutch 3 in crunch time.

Hailey Gosney gave East Union hope down the stretch, hitting a 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining to close the Lancers in, 53-51. Thornton was fouled on the next possession and missed her two free throws but was able to draw another foul after grabbing the offensive rebound. She made one of two from the stripe for the final score.

 “It’s a different game when she’s off the floor, and that’s what we have to get her to understand,” Davis said. “Sometimes that steal isn’t worth you getting that second foul early because it changes our rotation. She kept her head in it and finished off the game nice for us.”



East Union 19, Lathrop 17

Trinity Azarvand drilled a go-ahead baseline jumper with 6.5 seconds remaining, and East Union forced a turnover to clinch the win.

Ashley Martin led all scorers with nine points.

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