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Spartans fend off EUs late push
GBSK--East Union-Lathrop pic 3 for WEB
Lathrop guard Khiya Thornton looks drive against East Union defender Julia Vezaldenos. - photo by Photo By Sean Kahler

The Lathrop High Spartans emerged from Thursday’s Valley Oak League battle against visiting East Union with a hard-fought 55-52 win.

They did so by withstanding a wild final minute that included the Lancers fighting all the way back from a 14-point deficit to go up 50-49 with 59 seconds left in the game.

“We played a little better in the second half,” said East Union coach Jim Agostini, whose team trailed 32-18 at the half.   

His 6-foot-2 junior center Donja Payne hit that shot, scoring nine of her 20 points in that fourth quarter.

Lathrop (9-0 VOL, 16-4 overall) answered back a few seconds later with Khiya Thornton hitting a short jumper to reclaim the lead.

“I think we got over confident,” Spartans coach Dwayne Davis said after his team was outscored 22-12 in the fourth. “We had too many mental lapses in the second half.”

Lathrop got a little breathing room when Kaysey Matela intercepted a pass off the press, finding Thornton near the top of the key.

Thornton, on the three-on-two situation, immediately hit a cutting Myani Thornton for a layup.

East Union (4-4, 10-9) answered back with a Kayla Montoya basket.

Lathrop, after a sequence of fouls — to — give by the Lancers, delivered what proved to be the knockout punch — Myani Thornton managed to leak out on the inbound pass, scoring ahead of the field on layup.

Mary Cotton, who again had a stellar all-around game — she had 12 points, eight rebounds and five steals — preserved the win with a block shot.

“Credit Lathrop — they played like a first-place team,” Agostini said.

Davis, meanwhile, had a game plan set on trying to contain Payne, who was tough on the boards with her 12 rebounds.

Hailey Gosney and Julia Vezaldenos also helped in the East Union comeback.

Lathrop’s Winterfest game — comparable to homecoming — was fairly even until the second quarter.

That’s when the Spartans went on an 18-4 run sparked by Myani Thornton, who scored half of her 20 points in that rally.

Cotton, who went coast-to-coast for two after snagging a rebound, made another open-court play, dishing the ball to Thornton for the easy basket.

She and Thornton both had 3s in the quarter.

Khiya Thornton had 10 points and six rebounds and Matela added seven.

Vezaldenos had 11 points for East Union while Montoya and Gosney both hit for nine.

“I liked the way our team competed tonight,” said Agostini.