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Lathrop falls in first-ever playoff game
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Lathrop High’s first boys basketball postseason run was short-lived.

The ninth-seeded Spartans were eliminated in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs Wednesday, struggling at both ends of the court during key moments of a 68-52 loss to No. 8 Encina Prep of Sacramento.

Lathrop (14-13) was down just five with seven minutes to go but was outscored 28-18 in the fourth quarter overall.

“Their pressure got to us a little bit and we made some silly turnovers,” Lathrop coach Bill Slikker said. “We had a lot of good looks but didn’t shoot well. I can’t really say it was just the offense, because we have been hanging our hat on defense.

“For us to give up 68 points is not going to win games. We were doing OK until the fourth quarter. We couldn’t close the deal.”

Encina (19-8) led for most of the contest and was up 19-14 after the first quarter. Junior guard Dajon Green paced the Bulldogs with 22 points.

Marcus Conley had 12 to spearhead Lathrop. Ricky Chavez and Robert Orantes added 11 apiece.

Slikker hopes that junior Orantes and the few other players returning next year learned a thing or two about playoff experience. Lathrop will graduate 10 seniors, including Conley, Chavez and standout guard Joseph Sausau, who was held to four points Wednesday.

Sophomores Nilo Yuson and T.J. Conley were promoted to the varsity team for the game. Yuson got to see some playing time after Orantes got into foul trouble.

“Not being in the playoffs before hurt us,” Slikker said. “Like I told the guys, in order to win games like that we gotta be in games like that. “The seniors set the tone for the program, and now Robert has to lead the ship next year.”