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Lathrop battles valiantly against talented Cougars
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LATHROP — The Spartans gave it their all Friday against visiting Weston Ranch.

It was enough to put a scare into one of the top teams in the Valley Oak League.

But in the end, the Lathrop High boys varsity hoop squad fell to the Cougars, 88-63.

“It was our best effort thus far,” said Spartans coach J.J. Ramirez. “They played hard.”

Late in the first half, Lathrop strung together a 12-6 run shortly after Weston Ranch built up a 10-point cushion on Dylan Alexander’s rare four-point play – he was fouled after nailing a 3 from straight away. Prior to that, Daiveon Leverett delivered on a fast-break slam dunk.

He also drew a technical foul for holding on to the rim. The trade off of that was Ricky Chavez connecting on both free throws for the Spartans.

Chavez, Robert Orantes, and Shamit Kishore, who, along with Justin Fernandez, came off the bench to provide the Spartans with a big boost in the second period. They helped whittle Weston Ranch’s lead down to three.

Chavez, who led Lathrop in scoring with 19 points, hit on a bank shot while Orantes delivered trey.

“Lathrop shot the ball well,” Weston Ranch coach Ryan Bono said.

He added, “We got lazy on defense.”

The Cougars turned to their senior leadership – namely, Melvin Allen, E.J. Allen and Camron Turner – coupled with the all-around play of Andre Beard, who had 19 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.

“They’re the ones who hold this team together,” Bono said.

Ahead 43-35 at the break, Weston Ranch (4-0, 13-2) began pulling away in the third. Alexander and E.J. Allen both hit from behind the arc, while Beard, Leverett, and Melvin Allen contributed to the cause.

“Weston Ranch did a great job pushing the ball up the court,” said Ramirez.

Lathrop (0-4, 1-11) trailed 65-47, with Chavez and Orantes providing most of the offensive in the third.

Orantes and Kishore both finished with eight points.

Besides Beard, Alexander hit for 18 with four steals while Leverett and Ladra Befford chipped in with 13 and 10, respectively.

On Wednesday, Weston Ranch will host Kimball while Lathrop will travel to Sierra.