Lathrop’s boys basketball squad hung with the tournament host for the first two quarters of Thursday’s opening round game at the Rocklin Holiday Classic.
The Thunder (6-5) eventually wore the visiting Spartans down by outscoring them by 22 in the second half on their way to a 72-45 victory.
Lathrop will play in the consolation bracket today at Rocklin High at 11 a.m. against the loser of Lodi and River City of Sacramento.
“It started off well,” Lathrop head coach Nate McGrath said. “Rocklin is a good, fundamentally sound team. They weren’t 30 points better than us, and we were right there…but boy, when our wheels fall off they really fall off.”
Lathrop was led senior forward Nicholaus Obazuaye (18 points), but it wasn’t enough to overcome Rocklin’s eight 3-pointers. Senior Nilo Yuson was next in line with 10 points, and TJ Conley added six.
“We didn’t move the ball around and play our basketball,” McGrath added. “We played a lot of one-on-one in the second half, and that made it easy for the defense.”
Lathrop trailed 14-4 after the first quarter but outscored Rocklin by five in the second quarter to cut its deficit in half heading into the break.
The Spartans, who will open Valley Oak League play Tuesday at Manteca, only had 11 second-half points and three in the fourth. Lathrop also went 8 of 22 from the free-throw line.
“Once again free throws are killing us,” McGrath stated. “And we had 19 second-half turnovers. It was mostly unforced turnovers, forcing it where it doesn’t need to go or dribbling it off your foot – all the little things that we did well in the first half was a complete 180 in the second.”
Lathrop has two more games at the Rocklin Holiday Classic before starting league.
“I think it’s going to be a dogfight (in the VOL),” McGrath concluded. “I think we can compete with any of these teams this year. Sierra and Weston Ranch are the cream of the crop, but they both lost a lot of talent.”