MODESTO — For the second straight year, Lathrop’s girls basketball team will have a rubber match with Beyer.
This time, it’s for a spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
The Spartans put together a dominant second half to race past Johansen 50-43 in their regular-season finale Thursday. The result placed them in a third-place tie with Beyer, and only the top three teams in the Western Athletic Conference qualify for the postseason.
They were the co-champions last year, and they squared off a third time for a favorable seed. They’ll do it again tonight at Enochs High in Modesto.
“We’ve split with them this year and each time the home team lost,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “They’re pretty similar to us, so we have to make sure we’re dialed in.”
Lathrop (9-5 WAC, 12-14 overall) was dialed in over the final two quarters of its revenge win over Johansen (6-8, 15-11), which won the previous contest, 45-32. The Vikings led 28-21 at halftime of Thursday’s game.
“We just kept sending them to the foul line,” Davis said.
Unhappy with his team’s effort on defense and loose balls, Davis went with a four-guard lineup in the second half and the added speed did the trick for the Spartans.
Kierstin Constantino led the attack with 17 points and hit a big 3 late that gave Lathrop the lead for good, 44-41. Sophomore center Sydney Hanks made a put-back layup on the next possession and finished with six points. Isa Paniagua added 14 points.
Lathrop 51, Johansen 36
The playoff-bound Spartans (11-3 WAC, 19-7 overall) won handily in their final home game of the season.
They were paced by brothers Daniel and Walton Whaley, who fired 13 and 11 points, respectively. Vincent Quinones tallied 10 points for Johansen (5-9, 7-21).
Lathrop 44, Johansen 24
Taimane Lowery and Kalani Soriano pumped in eight points apiece, Lathrop ends its WAC season with a 9-3 record.