TRACY – What a difference a day makes.
One day after a thrilling one-point win to start the West High Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament, Lathrop came out cold while Liberty of Brentwood exploded for 23 first-quarter points and held the Spartans to one rebound in the opening period on the way to a 79-46 win at Steve Thornton Gymnasium.
“I told them before the game that this game was going to be won or lost on the glass,” Lathrop coach Nate McGrath said, “because they are a big, physical team. They punished us on the glass with a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half.
“That is where we lost the game. That 30-point difference was their offensive rebounds and put-backs, giving second- and third-chance opportunities plus the first quarter and a half we had terrible outside shots and then they were gone.
“You have to give them credit because they played a really nice, long, extended 2-3 zone and cut off the lanes.”
In addition to a poor performance on the boards early on, the Spartans did not make two free throws in a row until the fourth quarter, finishing 17 of 29 from the line.
“In terms of energy and our overall presence this was one of our worst games this year,” McGrath said. “I think five games in five nights finally caught up to us.”
Lathrop’s Junior Ballard led all scorers with 25 points and he had a double-double with 10 rebounds. Teammate Idowu Olaleye also had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
But going into the fourth quarter Ballard had 12 points and Olaleye six.
“The biggest part of our game plan was to take No. 24 (Ballard) out of the game and slow their offense down while turning ours into a track meet,” Liberty coach Jon Heinz said.
The Lions (6-1) put four players in double figures – Travis August (17 points), Benjamin Smith (12), Kyle Duff (11) and Jake Toomey (10). Brentwood had 12 3-pointers to just three for the Spartans.
Lathrop plays either Kimball or tournament host West for third place today at 5 p.m.
Tracy 63, East Union 58
The Lancers’ Gyse Hulsebosch tied a tournament record with eight 3-pointers, but the East Union defense left a lot to be desired.
“Defensively we didn’t get the job done,” Lancers coach Ryan Tarr said. “Rebounding was an issue.
“You should win a ball game when you score 58 points, but we just gave up too many, especially in the second quarter.”
Leading by just 14-13 after the first period, the Bulldogs (5-3) put up 20 second-quarter points for a 34-25 halftime lead. East Union (6-3) closed the gap a bit in the fourth quarter but could not close it all the way.
Austin Miller added 10 points for the Lancers.
East Union will look to salvage a win in the tournament today when it plays Pacheco at 2 p.m.