Lathrop held off a stubborn Ceres press and kept the Bulldogs at bay Friday night, never trailing in a 55-41 win to begin its defense of the Western Athletic Conference championship.
“We made some good clutch plays,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “We recognized getting the ball up the floor and we got some easy buckets that we haven’t got all year. I had the girls shorten up their passes on that press and we were still able to beat them down the floor.
“But it’s a learning curve. I’m going to quit saying that we are young because at some point we have to understand what we are doing. We have got better at that.”
The Spartans defense was on target as well, limiting Ceres (0-1 WAC, 8-7 overall) to just five first-quarter points.
Hailey Hunter helped spearhead the early attack for Lathrop (1-0, 3-10), scoring five of her 14 points in the first quarter. She added five rebounds and four steals.
“At the beginning, we got a lot of our baskets off of their press,” Hunter said. “We got the ball to the middle, that opened up the court and then we had two going against one.”
The Spartans’ Kierstin Constantino (two rebounds, two assists, two steals) led all scorers with 19 points behind five 3-pointers but she dished off a pair of assists — one to Hunter and another to Isa Paniagua (five points, five rebounds) for a 3-pointer — to bump the Lathrop lead up to 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“I like to make my teammates better and help them score,” Constantino said of her assists. “I couldn’t really drive today but I could shoot it.”
Jasmine Denning added six points and nine rebounds for the Spartans.
Mia Rodriguez scored 11 points and hit three 3-pointers to lead Ceres.
Lathrop travels to Beyer on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.
Lathrop 39, Ceres 26
The Spartans led 25-0 at halftime and held of a resurgent Bulldogs squad in the second half.
Jayna Dizon led Lathrop with eight points and Sabrina Gedde added six points.
Tracy 48, Lathrop 24
Lili Navarro paced the Spartans with six points and Kalani Soriano chipped in five points.