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Cougars clamp down defensively against overmatched Lathrop
Weston Ranch Cougar Emoni Wilson helped key a Cougar defensive performance that held Lathrop to eight third quarter points Thursday in VOL action.
WESTON RANCH – In the opening minutes, it seemed like Lathrop High’s girls basketball team was ready to take on the challenge of keeping pace with Weston Ranch, but as time wore on the Spartans were clearly in over their heads in a 75-47 Valley Oak League loss Thursday.

Weston Ranch (3-1 VOL, 9-6 overall) closed out the first quarter on a 10-3 run, giving themselves a double-digit lead with a Timnesha Wilson 3-pointer as time expired. The Cougars got going on offense in the second and continued with stifling defense to give Lathrop as task they couldn’t complete.

Lathrop showed signs of offensive success throughout the first period and into the second, but its opportunities for baskets began to dwindle away as the Cougars took over on the offensive and defensive glass.

“We played hard early on, we just get outrebounded by teams,” Lathrop head coach Ed Fang said. “Any team that is really quick we just can’t seem to match up with them.

“I was very proud with the way the girls kept fighting through the end.”

The Cougars were only up 13 heading into the halftime break, but blew things open in the third with a 24-8 run, led by a spirited effort from senior guard April Seth. Seth helped the cause with an eight point quarter on her way to a season-high 12 points.

“She is one of those girls that is going to do everything for you on the court,” Cougar head coach Chris Bauer said of Seth. “She is going to make her 15-foot jumpers, she’s going to make her layups; she’s going to get some rebounds and play great defense.

“There were some times where we kind of wavered and she came in and steadied us.”

Even the majority of Seth’s success came on the heels of great Weston Ranch defense. Each Lathrop shot was contested; the Spartan ball handlers were harassed with each trip up the court and that intensity did not regress at any point in the contest.

“With everybody we play that is what we try to do defensively,” Bauer said. “That is actually one of the things that we do well, and every game that is something that we are trying to do.

“We’ve changed our game plan a little bit and we’re working on tempo, tempo, tempo.”

The Cougars subbed in groups, interchanging four and five players at a time to try and keep the Spartans offense stagnant for four quarters.  Lathrop (0-4, 2-12) did find some success early with Krystal Ruiz (10 points) converting on some layups, and Jasmine Elder (15 points) got hot connected on three 3-pointers in the second half.  Erica Sanchez finished with nine points for the Spartans.

Weston Ranch got a game-high effort from Wilson who finished with 18, while teammate Jazmin Strane added 16. Seth’s dozen gave the Cougars three players finishing in double figures. Strane also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

The Cougars will try and make it three straight when they travel to Tracy to take on the Kimball Jaguars Tuesday, and the Spartans will make their way to Manteca to meet up with Sierra High.