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Balanced Spartans stymie Stagg

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Balanced Spartans stymie Stagg

Lathrop center Eric Spencer takes a short-range jumper with Stagg’s Cody Wilkenson in his face.


POSTED December 4, 2013 12:42 a.m.

LATHROP — Lathrop High’s boys basketball team showed flashes of how good it can be under first-year head coach Nathan McGrath in Tuesday’s 60-36 victory over Stagg.

The Spartans (2-0) were balanced offensively, used a ball-hawking defense to jump start their transition game and dominated the boards, 48-33, on both ends.

“They have it in them to be a pretty good ball club when they play together,” said McGrath, who is undefeated through three contests if you include Monday’s Foundation Game with Pacheco. Foundation Games, exhibitions that benefit the Sac-Joaquin Section’s scholarship programs, do not count against records.

Eric Spencer set the tone early for Lathrop, which scored eight of its first 10 points with put-backs. Spencer tallied eight of his 13 points in the opening quarter. The 6-foot-5 center also had 11 rebounds and two blocks, while T.J. Conley added eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

Their relentlessness on both ends helped Lathrop neutralize Stagg’s athletic posts, 6-foot-6 sophomore Kenneth Wooten (6 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks) and 6-5 Jamarea Spivey (8 points, 6 rebounds).

“They had the athleticism and height on us, but our bigs were real active and boxed out well,” McGrath said.

Foul trouble kept Lathrop from putting this one away earlier.

The Spartans used a 10-0 first-quarter run to put some distance between themselves and Stagg, and Mykhail Redman (12 points) drained a buzzer-beating runner to put them up, 21-10.

The Delta Kings threatened with a comeback in the middle of the second when Lathrop was scoreless for a 2 minute, 30-second stretch. Stagg took advantage as foul calls slowed Lathrop’s roll, converting 9 of 14 free throws in the period. Daniel Ruffin (15 points) buried back-to-back 3-pointers and closed the Delta Kings in 29-25 with 2:51 left in the half.

“It was really frustrating,” said Lathrop wing Nick Obazuaye, whose 16 points led all scorers. “We knew we were a more disciplined team but we let them back in it.

“We’ve had some stretches where we can be really bad, but other stretches where we are a good team. Coach just told us to keep up the intensity and focus on playing our game.”

Enter point guard Nilo Yuson, who sat most of the second quarter with two fouls against him. He sparked the Spartans on offense and defense, finishing with six points, six rebounds, 10 assists and six steals. Lathrop outscored Stagg 10-3 in the third quarter, and Yuson highlighted the run with a nifty no-look pass to Obazuaye on a fastbreak with 2:11 left. That ignited a 13-1 flurry that had Lathrop well ahead 49-29 early in the fourth.

“Nilo is a phenomenal point guard,” McGrath said. “He is great as a facilitator, and he knows when to attack and he knows when to dish it off to his teammates. It’s nice to have that kind of guard who can do a lot of things. He had (six points), but that’s not indicative of how well he played.”


Stagg 59, Lathrop 54

The Spartans rolled to a 15-5 first-quarter lead, but Stagg outscored them 20-9 in the final frame to sneak away victorious.

Mike Osorno paced Lathrop with 14 points. Luis Torres fired 10 of his 12 points in the opening quarter. David Montano added 10 points.

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