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Lathrop denied first VOL varsity win
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LATHROP — Lathrop High nearly made history Tuesday but couldn’t pick up the school’s first Valley Oak League varsity girls basketball victory in a 44-41 loss to rival Sierra.

The Spartans (0-12, 2-20 overall) hung tough throughout despite having just seven healthy players suited up.

Freshman point guard Jazlyn Simon led all players with 17 points and four assists and was 8 for 10 from the free-throw line. Krystal Ruiz added 10 for the Spartans.

The game was tied at 31 heading into the fourth quarter.

“We only played with seven players tonight but the girls gave a valiant effort and played some very good basketball down the stretch,” Lathrop coach Ed Fang said. “I’m pleased with how we dealt with the adversity.”

Sierra (6-6, 11-11) was coming off Monday’s tough 41-33 loss to VOL-leading East Union and couldn’t afford a loss to Lathrop with a postseason berth on the line. The Timberwolves are ranked 19th according to the first release of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division III playoff power ratings, and only 16 qualify.

Junior forward Alysia Atkins continued her superb play on the offensive end, finishing with 12 points.

“It’s tough to play two games in a row, but we’ve done that before so that’s no excuse,” Sierra coach Steve Unterholzner said. “Lathrop just hustled and is a scrappy team. Jazlyn Simon is a good little player.

“They’re waiting their turn, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat one of the league’s upper-half teams.”

Lathrop closes the season with four teams (Sonora, Ceres, Weston Ranch, East Union) that are vying for postseason berths. Lathrop hosts Sonora on Thursday while Sierra next squares off with Oakdale Feb. 9 on the road.

Ceres 40, Manteca 33
CERES — Manteca’s top scorer, Sharon Washington, was held to just four points, her single-game low for the season, but the Buffaloes (6-5, 13-9) were still in position to steal the win late.

Manteca was down three with less than 2 minutes to go but was held scoreless for the remainder of the game while Ceres hit six straight free throws to seal it. Ceres (4-6, 10-11) was 18 for 24 from the foul line overall.

Freshman Mikayla Hasal led Manteca with 11 points, while reserve center Dallas Mould added eight. Mould did a good job of limiting Ceres’ 6-foot-2 center Jamie Beck to just four second-half points and 11 overall. Jode Johnson paced all players with 16 points.

The Buffaloes found ways to get points in the paint despite Ceres’ big post players, but they only hit two shots from the perimeter all game — a 3-pointer from Hasal, and a jumper from Mariah Navarro.

“The rest were layups and free throws,” Manteca coach Andrea Hiatt said. “The difference of the game was that we could not score from the outside.”

Sonora 53, Weston Ranch 52
WESTON RANCH — Even with starters sitting out for disciplinary reasons, the Cougars (6-4, 13-8) managed to make a game of it after falling behind 20-5 in the first quarter.

Weston Ranch tied it at 50 with 13 seconds to go but could not get off a shot at the end in an attempt to win it. The game played out much differently from their first meeting, which Sonora (8-4, 13-10) took handily, 63-37.

“We just flat round out of gas, but I was proud of the way we responded after the first quarter,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said.

Timnesha Wilson pumped in 20 points and five steals in three quarters of action. Courtney Duran added 13 points while sinking three 3-pointers. Emily Medeiros contributed nine points and 12 rebounds.

— Jonamar Jacinto