LATHROP — Lathrop was held scoreless for more than half of the fourth quarter and along with visiting East Union combined for just 14 points in the final four minutes but still managed to pull out a 51-45 Valley Oak League boys basketball victory on Tuesday.
“We have a way of making things look ugly at times,” Spartans coach Nate McGrath said. “We had 14 missed layups and in the fourth quarter we missed four free throws – some of those the front end of one-and-ones. Those are turnovers in my book.
“League wins in the VOL are tough to come by, no matter who you play. And now our focus is Oakdale on Friday and hopefully we will get back to .500.”
Gyse Hulsebosch drained an NBA-range 3 pointer to draw the Lancers (0-3 VOL, 7-7 overall) within 49-45 with 45 seconds remaining. Just two seconds later Lathrop (1-2, 8-8) missed the front end of a one-and-one, and after pushing the ball quickly up the court East Union looked to be driving to come within two points when Junior Ballard skied high and slammed a block off the backboard, setting up Isais Hunter for the rebound.
“We let them hang around and fortunately some of their shots did not fall at the end,” McGrath said.
Hunter was promptly fouled and made both of his free throws for his only points of the game and a 51-45 lead with 34.5 seconds left. Despite getting two offensive rebounds in the remaining time the Lancers would come no closer.
“We couldn’t make shots all night,” East Union coach Ryan Tarr said. “Easy ones, too. We couldn’t throw it in the ocean.
“You have to put the ball in the basket. You’re right there. You have to finish. We held them to 23 points in the second half and that should be good enough to win the game.
Ballard started on fire, scoring 13 if his 14 points in the first quarter. He finished strong on defense, grabbing five of his nine rebounds in the fourth period.
“We weren’t fighting through the screens and that kept giving them shots,” Ballard said. “But at the end we had to be smart and push the ball on fast breaks.”
There were two ties and two lead changes in the game’s first 13 points. Although the Spartans took the lead for good early in the second quarter, their lead held between four and six points the rest of the half, going ahead by 12 points late in the third quarter before going cold in the final period.
Lathrop’s Adonis Payton led all scorers with 16 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
“It was a hard game,” Payton said. “East Union gave us a run for our money, but we played hard, we played our game, and that’s how we got the W.”
Austin Miller scored 10 points for the Lancers and teammate P.J. Gill had nine rebounds.
Hunter made four assists and two steals.
East Union 67, Lathrop 38
The Lancers held the Spartans to three points in the fourth period.
East Union’s Blake Greenlee and Jesse Anzar shared high-point honors with 14 apiece. Teammate Steven Cline chipped in 13.
Colin Weis led Lathrop with 12 points.