CLOVIS — In a season of milestones for Lathrop High’s girls basketball team, it ended with a display of respect from its opponent following a 59-57 overtime loss to seventh-seeded Clovis in the first round of the CIF Northern California Division III Regional Championships on Wednesday.
The No. 10 Spartans had a chance to win it in the waning seconds, but Mary Cotton’s 3-point attempt rattled in and out. They were held to just four free throws in the extra period, and Clovis (20-12) overcame a five-point gap in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to force overtime and sneak away with the victory. The Cougars head to No. 2 Aptos (26-4) on Saturday.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “The girls played their butts off, and the Clovis fans gave us a standing ovation as we were leaving the gym. Somebody had to win and somebody had to lose, and they made the plays right when they needed to.”
Lathrop (23-7) led for much of the game but could not contain Taylor Correa, who led all scorers with 24 points and buried a pivotal 3 during Clovis’ late run in regulation.
Free-throw shooting kept the Cougars within striking distance, as they hit 9 of 11 from the foul line in the fourth when they outscored Lathrop, 18-13. Kaysey Matela sank two free throws to put Lathrop ahead 53-52 with 7.5 seconds to go, and Clovis answered by making one of two from the stripe.
“It was a hell of a battle,” Davis said. “We controlled the game for basically four quarters. When we looked at that team on film they played all out on every minute and every second of every possession, and tonight they kept coming back.
“It came down to us making different decisions with the ball or getting a shot to go down in the end.”
Senior Semajynique Steen went out with a flurry, scoring a team-high 19 points with 13 coming in the first half. Myani Thornton added 12 points, and Cotton ended with 17.
Lathrop enjoyed its best season in program history, secured a share of the school’s first-ever Valley Oak League championship and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section finals and state tournament for the first time.
“I’m just extremely proud of this group,” Davis said. “The bar is so high now for everybody to follow. Our encore has to upstage what we did this year. For us, this has to be the norm.”
Division IV boys
Santa Cruz 65,
Weston Ranch 60
SANTA CRUZ — Weston Ranch (19-11) ends its season with two heartbreaking losses but will start the next with high expectations.
Even with three key starters out, the youthful Cougars gave top-seeded Santa Cruz (25-5) all it could handle in this NorCal opener after falling to eventual Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion West Campus 63-60 in the semifinals two weeks ago.
The Central Coast Section Division IV runner-up Cardinals needed a late 7-2 run to overcome Weston Ranch.
Makhi Turner led the Cougars with 28 points, and freshman Donjae’ Lindsey chipped in 15. They were without their best player, sophomore Gavin Wilburn, and top two post players in Raul Melgarejo and Antwann Taylor.
Max Dehart paced Santa Cruz with 19.
“(Santa Cruz) was the better team, but we play hard and are talented enough to play with them,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said. “The past two games we just got worn down inside late in games.
“We started two sophomores, two juniors and a freshman. These guys have some great experience and we get to build on that. Next year we’ll start playing everyone at their grade level and we won’t be at a disadvantage physically against top teams. We’re excited about the future.”