LATHROP — Dwayne Davis starts three guards who can each facilitate the offense at any time for his Lathrop girls basketball team.
Turns out they could even call the shots on defense, if need be.
It was sophomore Khiya Thornton’s recommendation to switch to a zone defense that helped the Spartans pull away in the fourth quarter and outlast rival Weston Ranch, 52-42.
With the visiting Cougars (0-3 Valley Oak League, 2-13 overall) settling for 3-point shots, Lathrop (3-0, 10-4) scored 14 unanswered points while holding them to without a field goal in the final 7 minutes, 6 seconds.
“Khiya suggested that we do something I hate, and that’s going into a zone,” Davis said. “We were able to get a little bit of rest, see the ball better, get the rebound and attack. I give that to my player. She recognized something that we needed to do.”
Lathrop didn’t need to make drastic changes at the start — just shots. The Spartans forced 10 turnovers in the first quarter and had open shots but still trailed 10-9 going into the second quarter. Weston Ranch led 25-20 at halftime, using its own zone defense that kept the Spartans out of its paint area.
“We can’t score 15 points in one shot,” Davis said. “We shot too many outside shots to start the game and didn’t attack.”
And so, his triumvirate of point guards attacked, creating for themselves and their teammates.
Kaysey Matela set the tone for the Spartans in the second half, converting twice on drives to the hoop in the opening minutes. She later made another layup off a transition feed from Myani Thornton, giving Lathrop the lead for good at 42-40 with 5:03 left.
Matela ended up leading all scorers with 13 points.
“I don’t think there are too many people who can stop Kaysey when she’s going to the basket, she just needs to stop leaving her feet and looking to pass the ball,” Davis said. “She can get to any spot on the floor; she has a low dribble and a superior crossover. We want her to shoot so much more.”
Myani Thornton contributed 12 points, nine rebounds, six steals, three assists and two blocks. Khiya Thornton scored 11 points and added four steals. Semajynique Steen grabbed 18 rebounds and four steals to go with nine points.
Kryshara Gary played a key part in Lathrop’s closing run, scoring all five of her points down the stretch while also securing 11 total rebounds.
“I feel like all my teammates, I can trust them with the ball when I get it to them,” Myani Thornton said. “It’s not just one person.”
DeArri Ross, a recent call-up from the sophomore squad, paced Weston Ranch with 11 points. Asani White collected 14 rebounds, and sophomore Damaysha Huff registered six points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
The Cougars competed well despite foul trouble for starting point guard Nia Boston (eight points), and leading scorer Justice Stitt could only muster five points — all in the second half. Stitt ended the Ranch’s fourth-quarter scoring drought with two free throws with 1:41 left after a Lathrop player was tagged with a technical foul for taunting.
“(Boston) sat on the bench for half the third quarter and half the fourth,” Weston Ranch coach Darrell Johnson said. “She is a catalyst. When we have her on the bench, Justice not scoring and the bigs not finishing, you do the math. It’s kind of tough to get a ‘w’ with that.”
Weston Ranch 39,
The Cougars shot out to a 16-6 lead and rolled from there.
Jasmine Basco fired a team-high 13 points. Krista Johnson and Kyara Thompson pumped in 12 apiece.