LATHROP — The Western Athletic Conference girls basketball co-champions met for a third time Friday, an extra game that decides which goes into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs as the higher-seeded team.
For Lathrop, it meant a little more.
“A point to prove,” Spartans coach Dwayne Davis said.
And that they did in the one-sided 73-35 win over Beyer of Modesto.
Was it something they were trying to prove to Beyer? Perhaps. The Patriots (13-1 WAC, 22-6 overall) did force the title share after downing Lathrop (13-1, 21-6) 49-45 in their second meeting. The Spartans dominated the first one, 62-39.
Round 3 wasn’t close after Lathrop went on a 24-1 run in the first half to put it away. The gap nearly widened to 50 one point — Kryshara Gary’s put-back layup made it 67-19 with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
“We kind of lit into them after our game over at Beyer, and it wasn’t about Beyer it was about what we didn’t do,” Davis said. “I think sometimes having those games where you’re beating times by 35 or 40, you forget about the little things.”
Those little things amounted to a big win heading into the postseason. Brackets will be released this afternoon by the section.
Khiya Thornton led the onslaught with 20 points and five assists. She struggled from the field at Beyer, but on Friday she was on target with six made 3s.
“We were really motivated when we heard we were going to play them again,” Thornton said. “In our last game (against Beyer) I had a hard time making shots and couldn’t score. For this game we really put an emphasis on getting up as much shots as possible. You may miss the first shot, but get a second and a third. It just so happened we were making them the first time around.”
Mary Cotton added 16 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four blocks. Kaysey Matela chipped in 10 points, six assists and four steals. Gary finished with eight points, and Ayon Carter had seven to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Carter capped off Lathrop’s impressive opening-quarter salvo, stealing an inbounds pass and converting the layup to beat the buzzer. The Spartans bolted into the second quarter with a 25-7 advantage, which grew to 44-15 by halftime. It started on the defensive end, as they forced 12 turnovers in the opening period alone and 27 in all.
“Holding them to 15 points at halftime, that’s a pretty good defensive game for us,” Thornton said. “We had to step it up compared to last time. Our defense is everything for us. When our defense is on our offense is rock solid. It’s the heart of our team.”
With the clock running and reserves on the floor, Lathrop nearly went without a field goal in the fourth quarter until Jenna Scalabba and Godwina Ogbeide each made a layup in the final 30 seconds.
Alicia Jones had a quiet 11 points for Beyer after burning the Spartans for 23 the last time.
Lathrop rides a five-game winning streak into the postseason. The Spartans made its first-ever SJS championship game appearance last year but lost the Division IV final to West Campus, 78-52.
“We made a deal, all of us, including the underclassmen coming up,” Thornton said. “We all want a ring on our finger. We’re going to push as much as we can to get that ring.”