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Lathrop has no answers for Timberwolves’ lockdown defense

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Lathrop High guard Robert Orantes had the only sliver of success for the Spartans Thursday in a loss to Sierra High, leading the squad with 14 points, including this miraculous layup which was Lath...

Photo By SEAN KAHLER/Special to the Bulletin

POSTED January 18, 2013 12:11 a.m.

LATHROP – Continuing a recent trend that could likely spill through the Valley Oak League like a plague, Sierra High posted a defensive show for the ages, suffocating Lathrop for three quarters in a 55-31 blowout Thursday.

Sierra (6-0 VOL, 16-3) pressured the Spartans into submission holding them to just a single field goal in each of the first two quarters. Sierra’s dominance seemingly uplifted the squad, as they climbed to new heights with each quarter on the defensive end.

It is one thing to hold a team to single digit scoring in each of the first three quarters, but the manner in which Sierra accomplished the feat was most impressive. The Timberwolves came out of the locker room with a 32-9 halftime lead, and got after Lathrop all over again as if they were down by nine.

“I think they understood what we had to do, because I told them all,” Lathrop head coach Bill Slikker said. “I talked to coach (Dave) Asuncion at Manteca and he told me it was probably the best defensive team he’s seen in 10 years. We had video, we went over everything they do, but give them credit they execute a lot better than we do.

“Offensively, they took us out of what we wanted to do; let’s be honest.”

The Timberwolves came from this way and from that way. Each ball handler was pressured, penetration lanes were non-existent and each and every gamble on the defensive end came equipped with unfailing back up. Even on the handful of times when Emmanuel Elijah or Guillermo Nunez did not get the trapping steal, Justin Patton and D’Ari Allen were waiting in response.

“We are talking about playing one possession at a time,” Sierra head coach Scott Thomason said. “We’re playing with a sense of urgency; we’re getting to the stage where you don’t want to take any backwards steps. We had a good showing on Tuesday (win over Manteca), especially defensively and so we want to try and play better this game.

“We’re not worrying about the score, just how we’re playing; we just wanted to play to our standard.”

Sierra’s standard defensively forces an impressive offensive production to take the back seat. The Timberwolves averaged 15 points a quarter through the first three, turning each Lathrop misfortune into an offensive attempt on the other end.

Eric Melgar continued to handle Sierra’s offensive needs, guiding the group through its patient sets and nailing perimeter jumpers when needed. His nine points through three quarters in only a glimpse at the starting point guard’s impact on the win.

“Eric Melgar is one of the more underrated players in this area,” Thomason said. “He’s big time and I don’t know if anyone knows that yet. He makes plays for us all game.

“He pressures the ball defensively, he shoots the ball well and he’s playing with a lot of confidence and it’s good to see.”

Lathrop was led by Robert Orantes’ 14 points, while Sierra got 15 from Elijah and nine from Patton.

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