LATHROP — The offensive woes continued for Lathrop on Tuesday, and matters have been made worse with the Spartans’ two best players out for the rest of the season with injuries.
Manteca held them to their second-lowest point total of the season and cruised 39-21 despite its standout player sitting for the majority of the game.
Lathrop (1-8 Valley Oak League, 6-16 overall) lost third-year point guard and leading scorer Lauren Collins to a broken hand in last Thursday. Two days prior the Spartans lost wiry post Danya Phillips to an ankle injury. She’s the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder.
“The back-ups have to play. It’s their opportunity to step up,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “Unfortunately we were already small and now we get really small.”
Manteca (7-2, 15-7) rolled to its fifth straight win and started out hot in its third meeting with the Spartans this year. Elizabeth Tolbert drilled two free throws to give the Buffaloes an 11-0 lead with 3:26 left in the first quarter, and 14 seconds later Terrina Phillips registered Lathrop’s first points with a runner.
The Spartans, though, were limited to just the two points in the opening period, while Manteca’s Rubel Dehal scored eight of her game-high 12.
With Manteca taking on league-leading Kimball on Thursday, coach MaryAnn Tolbert set specific goals for her team in the tune-up.
“I wanted to see us execute plays, move the ball around and be patient using the whole 30 (-second shot clock) instead of rushing up shots,” she said. “I also wanted to see us push the ball up and attack. We’ve done that well coming out of halftime in our last three games but I want us to start the game that way, too. We’re getting there.”
Lathrop fared better in the second quarter after Manteca’s Loretta Kakala got into foul trouble. Lydia Calix scored five of her eight points in the second, and Lathrop trailed 21-10 at halftime as the Buffaloes struggled to get their shots to fall.
“We did a good job of getting Loretta in foul trouble in the first half but we couldn’t take advantage of it,” Davis said. “We’re doing good work defensively but we are struggling so bad offensively. It’s hard to run an offense. Now we really have to scrap and score those hustle points.”
Manteca certainly deserves credit for its work on the defensive end, even without the 6-foot-2 Kakala on the floor. The Buffaloes began the third quarter on a 14-0 run capped by Kakala’s conventional three-point play. She finished with nine points and five rebounds. Leah Manuleleua added seven points and 12 boards. Manteca scored just two points in the fourth but most of its starters were on the bench.
“Our defense has improved a lot,” Tolbert said. “We’ve gotten better at communicating, especially on the weak side and helping people through screens. We’re making better adjustments. We’ve kind of evolved defensively. Even without Loretta we looked alright on defense. I think we’re making strides at the right time.”
Manteca will be tested in all phases Thursday when undefeated Kimball visits. Kimball won the first showdown decisively, 80-50.
“We’re looking forward for Thursday,” Tolbert said. They’re a great ball club. We’re going to prepare tomorrow and see how it plays out.”
And it doesn’t get any easier for Lathrop, which plays host to East Union.
“Nobody’s down and they’re still fighting,” Davis said. “That’s all we can ask for.”
Manteca 33, Lathrop 22
The Buffaloes pulled away with a 16-5 run in the third quarter.
Kayla Holmes led the way with 10 points and eight rebounds. J.J. Santos (six points) and Elena Montano also pulled down eight boards apiece. Julianne Just scored eight points for Lathrop.
Lathrop 49, Manteca 27
Myani Thornton poured in 17 points, and Rylene Crull chipped in 12 as the Spartans remain undefeated on the season.