SACRAMENTO — Lathrop High staged the biggest win in the school’s 10-year history on Tuesday by upsetting No. 1 Foothill in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal game, 58-50.
Mary Cotton and Myani Thornton helped pave the way with 14 points each. Sophomore Khiya Thornton chipped in with 12 points while playing solid defense on UC Davis-bound Makaila Sanders.
“I just tried to force her to go to her left,” said the younger Thornton. “She had the size advantage so I had to keep my hands back and use my legs to stay in front of (Sanders).”
Sanders scored a game-high 28 points but was held to just two field goals in the second half.
The No. 4-seeded Spartans (23-5) had come riding the postseason momentum. They’ll face No. 3 West Campus of Sacramento in the section finals at the University of the Pacific’s Spanos Center Friday at 2 p.m.
The win over Foothill was big in many ways, according to Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis, who was still recovering from his week-long illness.
“I wouldn’t have missed this game for anything,” he said. “We put the game plan together and girls followed it to a tee.”
In doing so, the Spartans became the first team in any sport in the history of the school to reach a section final. They have also reached their first appearance in the CIF State Northern California Regional Championships.
Cotton, who also pulled down 11 rebounds to go with five steals, four assists and two blocks, was keenly aware of her team’s accomplishment.
“We won the school’s first Valley Oak League title, but we’re still hungry and we have some momentum in the playoffs,” she said.
Foothill (25-4) jumped out to the early lead behind Sanders’ shooting from beyond the arc but then lost standout senior guard Kiara Dempsey to a leg injury.
Lathrop didn’t get its offense untracked until late in the first quarter thanks to Myani Thornton going the distance on a steal.
She repeated her efforts of jumping into the passing lane and finishing with a layup on the other end to start the second.
The Spartans scored 12 unanswered points while taking a 21-15 lead.
The Mustangs retaliated with a 10-0 run to reclaim the edge, 25-21.
A pair of free throws by Myani Thornton and Cotton 3 put Lathrop back on top shortly before the half, 27-25.
Sanders nailed a trey in transition to give Foothill a 28-27 edge at the break.
The Mustangs behind the outside shooting of Juliana Taylor — she hit three 3s — controlled most of the third quarter.
The Spartans kept it close with Cotton triggering a fastbreak off a rebound, hitting Myani Thornton in stride. The older Thornton then delivered a bounce pass to Khiya Thornton for the finish.
The game seesawed in the fourth. Rylene Crull hit a 3 to put Lathrop on top 47-45 only to see Sanders come back with a strong drive to the hoop.
Semajynique Steen along with Khiya Thornton, Myani Thornton and Cotton delivered key baskets down the stretch to the Spartans up, 56-50.
“Time was on our side,” said Cotton, who kept her team calm while playing keep-away to kill some clock. It was still a two-possession game.”
That changed when Khiya Thornton hit her free throws in the final minute.
“I tried not to think about (the importance of the free throws),” she said prior to the clinching moment.
Following the game, Davis was able to focus on the task at hand, in particular, West Campus for the section crown.
“I don’t know if we have the best team. But I do think we have a complete team,” he said.