A total team effort helped host Lathrop erase a 12-point second-quarter deficit and close out the game with a 12-4 run and defeat first-place Los Banos 54-47 and stay in the playoff hunt in Western Athletic Conference action.
“Coming back has been our story all year,” Spartans coach Dwayne Davis said. “Unfortunately, unlike tonight, some games we were not able to finish. We hit our shots inside and we hit our free throws. But mostly we didn’t have the defensive lapses down the stretch where we let teams go on runs. They were not able to pull double digits ahead late.
“Tonight we were able to catch up, close and finish. We did a great job defensively not letting them get open looks. No. 21 (Anissa) Sanchez is their 3-point shooter, and our main goal was to pick her up at half court. I rotated three girls on her to keep her at bay all night.”
Sanchez scored only seven points with one 3-pointer and no points in the fourth quarter.
Lathrop (8-5 WAC, 11-14 overall) took the lead for good with 4:10 left in the game when Alaba Olaleye (seven points) muscled up a shot underneath to make the score 44-43. With the score 46-45, Isa Paniagua (three points, four rebounds, two steals, two blocks, assist) took the ball on the wing and drained a 3-pointer to ignite a late 6-0 run.
In the next 30 seconds, Paniagua added a pair of steals and a rebound.
“It was really heart over matter,” Paniagua said. “We were down and we never gave up. We kept our heads up.
“I know a lot of us prayed and that really helped us and playing for our seniors and for playoffs gave us motivation.”
At the end of that 6-0 run with the shot clock running down, Kierstin Constantino (18 points) took a pass from Paniagua and hit a 3-pointer to make the score 52-45. She later added a pair of free throws.
“We passed the ball around until the shot clock was almost out,” Constantino said. “And then I took the shot.
“We lost to these guys last time and we wanted to get them back.”
Jasmine Denning (seven points, three steals, two assists) led the Lathrop defensive effort with 11 points and put the exclamation point on the night when she drew a charge with 13.8 seconds left in the game.
Sanah Singh scored 12 points behind four 3-pointers for the Spartans.
Katie Aragona earned high-point honors and led the Tigers (10-3, 15-4) with 20 points.
The win moves Lathrop into a three-way tie for third place with Ceres and Beyer with one game remaining. The Spartans travel to Modesto to face Johansen on Thursday night at 7:15.
Los Banos 44, Lathrop 24
Jayna Dizon led the Spartans with 21 points and Lylliana Avila added nine points.
Lathrop 44, Los Banos 25
A great defensive effort help the Spartans avenge an earlier-season five-point loss to the Tigers.
Tamaine Lowery scored 13 points to lead Lathrop with Kalani Soriano and Liliana Navarro adding nine points apiece.