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FEELING JAZZY

Lathrop beats EU for first time with blowout

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FEELING JAZZY

Lathrop made it tough on East Union’s Olivia Vezaldenos (12) all evening, limiting the freshman to five points in a 55-37 victory on Friday at the Dalben Center.

CHRIS LEONARD / www.leonardphoto.com/


POSTED January 12, 2013 12:06 a.m.

The Lathrop girls basketball team streamed out of the visitor’s locker room, greeting Friday’s late evening chill with a sunny disposition.

They laughed. They joked. They smiled. From ear to ear, they smiled.

These tough-luck Spartans finally solved the late-game riddle that had stumped them through the first three games of Valley Oak League play.

The answer: build a big lead, put the ball in the hands of point guard Jazlyn Simon, and feed Loreal Taylor in the post often.

Lathrop did all three against the defending Valley Oak League champions on Friday, snapping a string of heart-breaking defeats with a 55-37 victory at East Union.

The Spartans had lost three consecutive games to the league’s upper crust – Manteca (4-0), Sonora (2-2) and Weston Ranch (3-1) – in the final minute by two points, a stretch marred by turnovers and missed free throws.

“We finally played 32 minutes,” Lathrop coach Ed Fang said. “That was our only goal tonight. We wanted to play hard for 32 minutes.”

Taylor had 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and Simon finished with 15 points, five assists and four steals off the bench for Lathrop (5-10), a deceptively dangerous team at 1-3.

“We came from the lowest possible point,” said Simon, a fourth-year player. “Now we’re making our way to the top. This is a milestone for us. We’ve worked so hard, it’s not even funny.”

The payoff came on Friday.

Lathrop surged out to a 10-3 lead after one quarter and stretched the lead to 13 points at the intermission.

Simon, a crafty 5-foot, 3-inch point guard, provided the spark off the bench.

She had seven points and two assists in the second quarter, including a nifty three-point play to close the half.

With the clock winding down, Simon drove to the right, stepped between two defenders and floated up a shot as she was fouled.

She converted the free throw with 6.2 seconds left to make it 27-14.

Fang applauded Simon’s performance – a collection of scooping layups, one-handed passes and behind-the-back dribbles – but saved his biggest praise for her maturity during a tough transition.

The one they call “Jazzy” had been a three-year starter until this season. Now she’s super sub.

“She accepted a new role coming off the bench,” Fang said. “She gives us that spark, that added energy, and she’s an outstanding ball handler. This was one of her better games.”

The victory was Lathrop’s first over the VOL’s longtime darling, and for many, a signal to the rest of the league that Lathrop is a program on the come.

Count East Union coach Jim Agostini among the believers. His team was out of the running after just eight minutes, mustering only three free throws in the first period.

East Union’s first field goal came nearly two minutes into the second quarter and freshman point guard Olivia Vezaldenos had just one point entering the fourth.

She finished with five points, eight rebounds and an assist in 32 minutes.

“They had three tough losses to start league. You can focus on the negatives, but the positive is that they knew they were playing good basketball,” Agostini said. “It’s tough to win, and you have to learn how to win. We’ve done a lot of winning around here. They’re learning to win and they’re a really good basketball team.”

Victoria Vezaldenos and Marina Salyer had nine points apiece for the Lancers (2-2, 6-9), while Madison Hoffman finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

Sophomores

East Union 49, Lathrop 29

Anna Wood scored 15 of her 16 points in the first half as East Union pulled away in the second quarter.

Alissa Burrolo had 15 and Maddie Yslara finished with seven for the Lancers (3-1, 9-5), which used its press to fuel a 15-5 run in the first half.

“The girls have been working hard on the full-court press stuff,” East Union coach Rich Posz said. “They’re excited to play full court – pressuring the other team and forcing them into mistakes.”

Lauren Collin paced Lathrop (0-4) with 10 points.

Freshmen

East Union 30, Lathrop 22

Kayla Lecce had eight points as East Union improved to 3-1 in conference play. Cierra Wood had nine points for Lathrop, still searching for its first win.

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