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Lathrop letdown leads to first loss

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Lathrop letdown  leads to first loss

Nilo Yuson gets an open look at the basket for Lathrop. He finished with 11 points, but the Spartans dropped their Tracy Winter Holiday Classic opener 70-50 to tournament co-host Tracy on Thursday ...

Photo by STU JOSSEY/

POSTED December 13, 2013 12:37 a.m.

TRACY — First-year head coach Nate McGrath figured his Lathrop boys basketball team’s all-too frequent bouts with lackluster play was bound to catch up soon.

 It happened Thursday night in the first round of the Tracy Winter Holiday Classic.

Tournament co-host Tracy was down 33-26 early in the third quarter before countering with a game-changing flurry that led to a 70-50 win and Lathrop’s first loss of the season. The Spartans (3-1) face Johansen at 5:30 tonight back at Tracy’s Swenson Gym.

“We needed a beatdown like this,” McGrath said. “Despite the fact that we won our first four games (including a Foundation Game, which does not count against records) we hadn’t really played anybody. Those are teams we should beat. I think maybe they were a little full of themselves and maybe this will ground them and bring them back to reality.”

Reality set in during Tracy’s 26-4 run that covered 5 minutes, 56 seconds between the third and fourth quarters. Prior to that, Lathrop had just completed a 6-0 run that gave it the 33-26 lead with 4:53 to go in the third. Mykhail Redman (8 points) fed Nicholaus Obazuaye (15 points, 6 rebounds) with an alley-oop pass on a breakaway to cap the short-lived rally.

The Bulldogs (5-1) took over from there.

Spearheaded by guards Druce Asah (23 points) and Khareym Watson (13 points, 5 assists) and 6-foot-6 power forward Josh Brakkee (26 points, 14 rebounds), Tracy took advantage of Lathrop’s lax defense, especially in transition.

Tracy scored 10 unanswered points in the middle of the third period. Later, after Brakkee was fouled on a fastbreak layup attempt, and the Lathrop bench was tagged with a technical foul that culminated in five straight points — all scored by Tracy’s standout big man — on the possession.

“Transition defense was slow,” McGrath said. “When you have a team that can transition from defense to offense like Tracy that’s what happens.

“They’re a good squad. They’re not 20 points better than us, but tonight they were because we were lazy and they were aggressive, plain and simple. It’s disappointing.”

The scoring ended fittingly and spectacularly with Watson’s transition dunk with 30 seconds to go. McGrath said the game was lost well before that.

“As soon as they took the lead we were mentally done,” he said. “It was one of those unfortunate games, but you know what it’s preseason, it’s a learning experience and we will get better from this.”

Tracy faces Castlemont of Oakdale in the semifinals, while crosstown rivals Kimball and West square off in the other winner’s-bracket contest. Modesto and Pacheco meet in the consolation round.

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