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Defense makes up for offensive struggles against Ceres

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Lathrop’s Janet Visaya soars through the Ceres defense for two points in the third quarter during Friday’s victory over Ceres High.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED December 1, 2012 12:46 a.m.

LATHROP – It took both clubs a quarter to find any sort of offensive rhythm, but when Lathrop and Ceres high both got going it was the Spartans who were a little more productive. They fended off a late Ceres rally in a 36-28 season-opening victory Friday.

The Spartans only trailed Ceres at 2-0 and 8-7, pulling off from a 10-9 lead with eight consecutive points to close out the first half with an 18-9 lead. Ceres was never out of the contest up to that run to close the first half, but the Bulldogs were never able to get any closer than a four point deficit.

“The girls are really playing some solid defense, all throughout the team,” Lathrop head coach Ed Fang said. “We have a great addition to the team with coach (Dwayne) Davis working with the girls on defense. This is a team that we have always had trouble with and Ceres played hard again tonight.”

Lathrop was able to put itself in position to win behind a pair of key runs in the contest. The run to close the first half was no more important than when Ceres cut Lathrop’s lead to four and the Spartans answered with a 9-0 run. Janet Visaya was the key contributor during that sequence, hitting back-to-back field goals and then sinking three of four free throws on consecutive trips to the line. Visaya finished with nine.

“She was injured last year and it really just hampered her,” Fang said of Visaya. “She worked hard over the summer and got a lot stronger for us.

“She is just a blessing in disguise having her healthy.”

Taylor Conley and Loreal Taylor were dominant in the paint, combining for 17 points and 14 rebounds. The two were able to give Lathrop quality minutes whenever they were called to the court. Conley scored the final four points on the first and the fourth quarters, while Taylor was responsible for five steals.

Bryce Ford led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while guard Nicole Bates chipped in with six.

The Spartans (1-0) will be back on the court Tuesday when they play host to the Linden Lions.

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