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Johnsons 19 points, 17 boards propel Sierra
Sierra High’s Alysia Atkins attempts a layup in front of Lathrop defender Marissa Elliott Tuesday. For additional photos, visit pre.cjk { font-family: "Courier",monospace; }p { margin-bottom: 0.<a href=""></a> - photo by CHRIS LEONARD
There was a moment early in the first quarter where it actually looked like visiting Lathrop High stood a chance against Sierra in Tuesday’s Valley Oak League contest.

That was until Jordan Johnson and the rest of the Timberwolves got it going on both ends of the floor.

After allowing Lathrop to stay in it early, Sierra managed to slowly extend its lead further en route to a 64-41 victory over the Spartans in a game that will prepare them for arguably the toughest four-game stretch of its entire season so far.

“The only adjustment that we really made at the half was defense,” Sierra head coach Steve Unterholzner said. “Aside from that, we’ve just kept playing the kind of basketball that we’ve been playing all year and it’s working for us.”

Sierra (3-2, 11-5 overall) started the game without their most prolific player, Alysia Atkins, for personal reasons, but she came off the bench without missing a beat. Atkins led Sierra in scoring with 20 points.

But Sierra’s most impressive performance of the night came from Johnson, who finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds and four assists.

“Whenever she gets those offensive rebounds and gets second chances at points that’s just huge for us,” Unterholzner said. “It’s hard to express how important she is to this team when she plays like that.

“Overall, we’re playing much better as a team than we did when we first started off this season, and we’re going to have to be as we head into this week.”

Freshman guard Diamond Gomez finished the game with 19 points to lead the Spartans (0-4, 2-12) and went on a tear to start the game, scoring the game’s first four field goals.

Jasmine Elder finished with nine points.

“We don’t have a problem scoring points, but we just can’t seem to rebound,” Lathrop head coach Ed Fang said. “They were just bigger and stronger than we were down low, and we were going to have to work a whole lot harder if we were to get those baskets.

“I was glad to see that we were able to put some points up on the board, but we didn’t get to the boards and that’s a big disadvantage.”

Over the course of the next four games the Timberwolves will have to take on Weston Ranch, East Union, Manteca and Sonora — a stretch that could very well determine their playoff hopes.

“If we can take a couple of those games we might put ourselves in a good position,” Unterholzner said. “It all really comes down to how well we play.”