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Kimball gets first varsity victory at Lathrops expense
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LATHROP — The Lathrop High girls basketball team was seeking its first Valley Oak League win against visiting Kimball on Thursday.

The Jaguars, who are in their inaugural year with a varsity team, were simply in need of their first victory in school history.

Kimball (1-5, 1-10) did just that, winning 50-43.

“They wanted it more,” said Lathrop coach Ed Fang.

Jaguar coach Mike Granillo was thrilled and relieved with the outcome that included his team staging a 14-2 run in the fourth period.

“We finally got the monkey off our back,” said the veteran hoop coach.

After trailing 41-36, Kimball tied the game 41-41 early in the fourth on Kristy Nguyen’s 3-point shot. The suddenly energized Jaguars then wreaked havoc with their pressure defense,

At the 6:12 mark, Devereaux Gordon put Kimball ahead with her basket.

Lathrop (0-6, 2-14 overall) had come out strong at the start of the game and early in the second half.

“After our starters, we have a big drop-off (in skill level), and our subs just aren’t there yet,” Fang said. “As a result, we ran out of gas.”

The Spartans were further hampered when freshman point guard Diamond Gomez was forced out of the game with a leg injury.

Gomez, who had nine points, helped her team to an early 13-3 lead. She hit a couple of baskets, dropped in two free throws and assisted Krystal Ruiz’s basket from close range. Her defense went unmatched and she was also Lathrop’s best ball-handler against the press.

Down the stretch, Lathrop had to make do, trailing 44-41 in the final three minutes.

Jasmine Elder, who led the Spartans with 18 points — she also chipped in with seven rebounds and five steals — hit a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game.

Megan Bhathal’s shot made it 46-43, Kimball. Maria Tuigamala added some insurance by hitting a pair of baskets in the closing minute.

The Spartans opened the game with plenty of promise, jumping out to a 19-13 advantage. But the Jaguars rallied in the second period behind the play of Toni Juarez, who forced several turnovers during the 9-3 run.

Trailing 28-27 at the intermission, Lathrop reclaimed the lead in the third on field goals by Erica Sanchez, Marissa Elliott, Elder, and Gomez.

The momentum turned in favor of Kimball in the fourth.

“Our girls were determined (to win) tonight,” Granillo said.

Lathrop will travel to Oakdale and Sonora next week.