LATHROP — Lathrop’s first-ever girls basketball win over Manteca wasn’t close.
Buoyed by balanced scoring and a suffocating defense, the Spartans steamrolled for a 61-30 win Thursday to set the stage for their anticipated rumble with Kimball. They’re the two remaining undefeated teams going into the final game of the first half of the Valley Oak League and will tangle Saturday in Tracy.
Lathrop (6-0 VOL, 13-4 overall) has already beaten the Jaguars this season, winning handily 53-34 in the championship game of the Stagg Delta Queens Classic on Dec. 9.
The Spartans were 0-17 all-time against Manteca, according to MaxPreps.
“We’re not worried (about) who the victories are over,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “We had a goal when we started the season, play the toughest competition we can to get ready for this league so that we can be the toughest competition. We know everybody is coming. The girls are excited and they’re just ready to play.
“Tonight was a total team effort,” he added. “Manteca is a very, very good team, and we know we’re going to see a very, very good team Saturday in Kimball. They’re dialed in. I’m proud of how they’re playing.”
The Spartans haven’t slowed down since reintroducing third-year standout Mary Cotton to the roster. She played her second game of the season Thursday, and the team is performing with machine-like efficiency.
“We’ve been playing together for about three or four years now, and honestly we’ve already built the chemistry and it’s hard to break,” Cotton said.
They ended the opening quarter on an 11-0 run capped by reserve guard Rylene Crull’s 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
Lathrop then buried three straight 3s — made by Cotton, Myani Thornton and Semajynique Steen — in the final 1 minute, 8 seconds of the half for a 32-14 advantage.
In the third, Lathrop held the Buffaloes (4-2, 12-7) without a field goal until Marissa Serrano got a fall-away jumper from the baseline to drop with 2:09 left.
Steen led the Spartans with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Myani Thornton added 13 points, Crull had 10 and Khiya Thornton contributed eight points and seven rebounds.
Cotton was selective with her shots and settled for six points but found other ways to affect the game, finishing with seven rebounds and five blocks in just three quarters of action.
“We’re moving well and we’re playing good ball,” Davis said. “She’s such an unselfish player. She doesn’t care if she has four points and gives up 20 passes, she’ll be happy.”
Freshman guard Kyaira Jacobs tallied 11 points to pace Manteca, which was held to single digits in every quarter.
“Tip your hat, Lathrop beat us in every aspect of the game,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “We did not come out with energy, urgency, any fire — kind of going through the motions.”
Manteca 42, Lathrop 14
The Buffaloes broke it open by allowing just four points in the second half.
Victoria Villalvazo led all scorers with nine points, all coming in the first half. Savannah Alvarez and Raelene Finley each had eight.