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Defense leads to offense in Manteca win
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LATHROP – Manteca High’s girls basketball team used a stifling defensive first quarter to hold Lathrop to just three points, and then got things going offensively in the second quarter for a comfortable halftime lead on its way to a 57-32 Valley Oak League win Thursday.

Manteca (6-4 VOL, 13-8) pushed ahead with a 24-9 halftime lead, never trailing the Spartans in the contest.

“Our focus was definitely on defense,” Manteca head coach Andrea Hiatt said. “We knew that if we could work hard defensively, we would be able to score easy buckets because of it. We had kind of gotten away from defense and it was what we lived by at the beginning of the season.

“So that is what we’ve been really focusing on; playing good, tough, strong defense.”
Lathrop was led by Jazlyn Simon’s nine points and teammates Jasmine Elder and Blessie Caro chipped in eight and five points, respectively.

“Manteca came out and played a good game,” Lathrop head coach Ed Fang said. “They were able to pretty much do what they needed to do against us.”

Manteca, led by Sharon Washington’s 22 points, made it two wins in a row in league play after dropping consecutive games to East Union and Sonora. With the each league member having the ability to beat one another, the Buffaloes will be pleased with any momentum heading into the stretch-run of the VOL campaign.

“We played well tonight, Lathrop is no joke; they’re a good team” Hiatt said. “He (Fang) was throwing out a lot of different defensive looks at us that we had to adjust to and the girls did a good job at it.”

The Buffaloes will enjoy some time off with an upcoming bye and get back on the hardwood Tuesday with a trip to Ceres, seeking revenge from a 50-47 loss back on Jan. 12.

Sierra 40, Ceres 34
CERES — Sierra (5-5, 10-10) countered Ceres’ Jode Johnson with their own Johnson — Jordan Johnson.

The reserve forward keyed the Timberwolves’ big road win with an out-of-nowhere 17 points. Lia Unterholzner was also huge off the bench, pitching in with eight.

Sierra was down four going into the fourth before going on a 15-5 run.

“I’ve always know that (Johnson) has that in her,” Sierra coach Steve Unterholzner said. “She had a quiet 17 but played great defense and got a ton of boards.”

Jode Johnson, who had 17 points in Ceres’ 40-32 win at Sierra on Jan. 7, was held to just 10 Thursday. Center Jamie Beck led the Bulldogs (4-5, 9-10) with 14.

The Timberwolves struggled to contain Ceres’ terrific post tandem man-to-man in their first meeting but went with a different looks on both ends in the rematch.

“We used Jordan as a third (post), because they didn’t have anyone to match up with her,” Unterholzner said. “On defense we zoned a little bit and pressured their guards more so that (Jode Johnson and Beck) didn’t get the ball so easily.”

Weston Ranch 48, Central Valley 40

CERES — Weston Ranch (6-3, 13-7) overcame a 14-1 first-quarter hole and outscored the Hawks (3-7, 6-15) 28-10 in the middle periods to avoid the upset.

Timesha Wilson led the Cougars’ comeback with 19 points. Courtney Duran and Melissa Reboja chipped in seven each. Duran also pulled down 11 boards.

“We had some players not play because of disciplinary action, so it was a great team effort,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said.