TRACY – The Lathrop Spartans have yet to win a Valley Oak League game.
But that just might change following Thursday’s 72-61 victory over league foe Kimball at the Tracy/West High Winter Holiday Boys Basketball Classic.
Marcus Conley, who was marred in a shooting slump, got hot at the right time in the consolation-bracket game played at Steve Thornton Gymnasium at West High.
“His three 3s in the third quarter really helped us out,” Lathrop coach Bill Slikker said. “We needed his outside shooting.”
Conley finished with a game-high 20 points.
Lathrop (5-4) will take on Manteca High – yet another VOL rival – today for fifth place. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Tracy High gym.
Against Kimball (7-4), the Spartans played with some intensity early on. They came out crashing the boards and attacking the basket, jumping out to 19-10 lead with an 11-2 rebounding edge in the opening period.
Javaun Seldon-Young provided some of the early spark. In the first quarter, he hit for seven of his 12 points, hauling in four boards including two on the offensive end and a steal.
Joseph Sausau had a pair of 3s in the first half while finishing with 11 points.
The Spartans also relied on good ball movement and later found some easy buckets once they broke the Jaguars’ press defense.
Defensively, Lathrop often collapsed on Joe Walls, Kimball’s 6-foot-5 inside scoring threat. He still finished with 15 points, but did so while working through a swarm of defenders.
Slikker credited that the loss to West on previous night as contributing to his team’s success.
“We learned that we can play and hold our own against the good teams,” he said.
Lathrop iced the game on a pair of driving layups by Robert Orantes and free throws down the stretch by Ricky Chavez and Sausau.