STOCKTON — Fred Lavender and the Weston Ranch Cougars proved to be tough match up Lathrop.
The 6-foot-1 junior drove inside, splitting the Spartans’ double and sometimes triple team often enough to lead his team to a 72-48 Valley Oak League victory.
“He’s special,” said Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan of Lavender. “This is his first year of playing high school basketball and he’s showing that he can have big games.”
Lavender led an otherwise balanced attack first the Cougars (3-1 VOL, 10-6 overall), scoring 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half.
“I thought the last half of the second quarter cost us,” Lathrop coach Nathan McGrath said. “Up until that point, we did good job handling their press.”
The Spartans (1-3, 2-16) trailed 23-21 thanks to a pair of baskets by Avraj Bal, who led Lathrop in scoring with 15 points.
That 6-0 run occurred right after Weston Ranch excited the home crowd with Jalen Ragsdale setting up Lavender’s breakaway dunk by flipping the ball off the backboard.
The Cougars began to pull away as a result of forcing five turnovers shortly before halftime. Teevan credited Jordan Tauga for forcing the action. Ragsdale and Josh Dilg were among those pressuring the ballhandlers.
Lathrop also played most of the first half without leading scorer Isaiah Ellis, who came in averaging 18 points. He sat due to early foul trouble.
“He’s what makes our offense go,” said McGrath.
For Teevan, he often relies on Ragsdale or Lavender.
Ragsdale finished with 14 points and five steals.
Lathrop freshman Junior Ballard helped pick up the offense, netting 12 to go along with five rebounds and two steals.
A pair of treys by Jazz Swanson and a dunk by Jordan Strane boosted the Cougars to a 17-13 lead midway through the opening period.
Lathrop pulled to within a basket before being plagued by turnovers.
“Credit Weston Ranch. This is a team with really quick athletes,” McGrath said.
Michael Mills poured in 14 points for Lathrop with Isaias Hunter chipping in 11. Udhay Singh had nine for Weston Ranch. The final score was not provided as of press time.
Weston Ranch 61
Michael Ballard finished with 15 points, which included a key free throw that helped Lathrop hold on for the win.
Andres Villages led the Spartans (1-3 VOL) with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Colin Weis contributed 13 points and three assists.