After a toe-to-toe start, Lathrop’s press took over with 19 first-half steals that fostered a 24-point halftime lead on the way to a 63-44 Valley Oak League win Tuesday over host Sierra.
“We picked up the intensity,” Spartans coach Dwayne Davis said. “Getting Mary (Cotton) back gives us the ability to do things we haven’t been able to do pressure-wise. Getting her up to the front of the press allows putting Myani (Thornton) back to where she plays a better position where she can anticipate the steal.
“That helps ignite our break. You are basically looking at four guards who can all shoot, score and finish. I was really pleased with that.”
While the Timberwolves (0-5 VOL, 5-11 overall) never led, they were hanging close at 12-10 when Lathrop (5-0, 12-4) went on a 15-2 run that lasted into the second period.
“We were with them early,” Sierra coach Larissa Founts said. “And I was hoping we were going to stay with them but they got a jump on us.
“We have to be able to have things thrown at us and then be able to make adjustments. We knew what they were going to do, we just have to get our nerves under control and play like that. Lathrop plays travel ball and you could see that on the floor and you can tell they have been together for a while and that’s a testament to them.”
This was Cotton’s first game of the year and she was a force on both offense and defense, getting a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds along with four first-half steals and three blocks.
“I was just trying to help the team win,” Cotton said. “I felt blessed to be back on the court.”
Thornton scored 13 points and along with Cotton was part of the suffocating first-half defensive effort with four steals by halftime along with three assists.
“I was just trying to find my rhythm,” Thornton said. “Today I was trying to pass it more when other people were open.”
Kaysey Matela added 10 points for the Spartans.
Lindsey Walljasper tallied a double-double for Sierra with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Lathrop 37, Sierra 32
Hailey Hunter helped the Spartans hold off the Timberwolves and led Lathrop with 13 points.
Chaundra Nestor paced Sierra with nine points.
Sierra 53, Lathrop 30
The Timberwolves placed three players in double figures. Daleen Sidhu led Sierra with 18 points. Kayla Guarascio added 16 points and Inessa Villanueva tallied 13.