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Bal sparks Lathrops early run in blowout
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LATHROP — Gurveen Bal knows how to set the tone.
Bal scored 11 of her 13 points for Lathrop in the first quarter Tuesday and that helped the Spartans start the game on a 10-0 run on the way to a 63-33 Valley Oak League win over Sierra at Lathrop High.
“Coach said we had to go out there and push hard and keep on pushing,” Bal said, “We had to get after them so we could put them away early so that’s what I did.”
Danya Phillips played a well-rounded game for Lathrop (4-3 VOL, 11-8 overall) with nine points, six steals, five rebounds and five assists.
“I just stepped up and played the role I needed to play.” Phillips said. “That helped the team get the ‘W’ tonight.”
With Phillips and Bal on the perimeter, Mary Cotton patrolled the paint with 17 points and 10 rebounds along with three steals and three blocks.
“I see where the ball goes,” Cotton said. “I can read where it is going to go and that is how I get the rebounds.”
The Spartans employed their usual suffocating defense, forcing 14 first-half turnovers while allowing just 17 points going into the third period. Lathrop totaled 16 steals. 
“Our main focus tonight was to make sure we got up defensively,” Spartans coach Dwayne Davis said. “We wanted to trigger our offense through our defense and get some easy scores early and give us a chance to relax.
“They handled our press pretty well. We didn’t get to some of the balls I thought we should have – we were a little lazy on the back end – but we got some balls up top and we were able to get some easy scores out of it.”
Alison Edwards scored seven of her 11 points for Sierra (0-7, 2-17) in the fourth quarter. Edwards had six rebounds – all in the second half – and teammate Raiann Prieto added nine points. 
“We fight every night no matter who is on the court,” Timberwolves coach Martha Spivey said. “We anticipated that fourth-quarter press, and it happened.
“The girls knew it was coming and they played through it.”
Sierra 33, Lathrop 13
The Timberwolves held the Spartans to two points in two quarter and allowed no more that six in any period.
Sierra’s Natalie Dias led all scorers with 10 points and Jasmine Denning had four points for Lathrop.

Lathrop 35, Sierra 28
The Spartans outscored the Timberwolves 12-4 in the first quarter and were not able to bounce back.
Lathrop’s Alexis Dural and Eva Sizman shared high-point honors at 11 points each and Dominique White had 10 points for Sierra.