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Fourth-quarter scoring drought dooms Spartans
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J.J. Ramirez and his second-year Lathrop High varsity boys basketball team are growing tired of moral victories.

On Wednesday, the host Spartans notched yet another in a 51-44 loss to Oakdale.

Lathrop (0-7, 2-15 overall) was 8 minutes away from clinching the program’s first-ever conference win at the varsity level leading 43-35 at the start of the fourth quarter, but Oakdale (3-4, 12-8) closed the contest on a 16-1 run.

The Spartans have struggled in crunch time in the past having lost to East Union, Sonora and Kimball in the fourth quarter.

 “I don’t know how I should feel right now,” Ramirez said. “I don’t know if I’m disappointed, or happy to see us compete well for three quarters again. We’re right there.”

Oakdale’s superior size eventually took over in the fourth quarter, helping the Mustangs get second- and third-chance opportunities off the offensive glass. Lathrop also struggled to knock down shots against their zone defense.

Marcus Conley scored nine of his 19 points in the first quarter for the Spartans, helping them take an early 16-8 lead. Darius O’Conner contributed eight points and eight rebounds.

Vince Thompson keyed Oakdale’s second-half comeback with three 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.