Lathrop High is one of those bubble teams in the Valley Oak League playoff race.
Every win at this point of the season is crucial.
On Wednesday, the Spartans (6-4 VOL, 13-10 overall) kept hope alive with a 68-58 victory at East Union.
“Every win helps, while any loss and you’re done,” said Lathrop coach Nathan McGrath.
Leading the way for his Spartans was sophomore sensation Junior Ballard, who finished with a game-high 24 points and 16 rebounds.
Michael Mills and Adonis Payton chipped in with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Daniel Ramos led East Union (3-7 VOL, 11-11) with 23 points and nine boards.
“Daniel played with a lot of energy tonight,” said Lancers coach Ryan Tarr.
Ramos did most of the damage in first half, scoring 17 at the intermission and eight in the opening period.
East Union woes came on defense, in particular, trying to contain Ballard on both ends of the court.
Twice, Ballard snatched defensive rebounds and drove the length of court for scores. He also got defenders in foul trouble.
Lathrop ended the first quarter by going on a 14-3 run.
Down 28-13 midway through the second, the Lancers, behind Ramos and Gyse Hulsebosch, orchestrated a 10-2 rally to cut the deficit to single digits, 30-21.
The Spartans answered back, outscoring East Union, 6-1, taking a 37-24 lead into the half.
Payton kept the momentum going in the second half, coming up will a quick steal and layup in the backcourt. After a trey by Mills, Payton scored on the putback.
The Lancers put together a modest run late in third highlighted by Malik Thomas, who had a save which led to a corner jumper by PJ Gill, delivering on a 3.
Thomas chipped in with 11 and Hulsebosch had 13.
“It was not a good effort on our part,” Tarr said. “We didn’t get back fast enough on defense.
“We couldn’t string together stops — we drew fouls but we had trouble making our free throws.”
Manteca 74, Kimball 40
It was all Manteca (8-2, 18-4) from the start, as it jumped out to a 21-7 lead and held the visiting Jaguars to just three points in the second quarter to widen the gap to 43-10 by halftime.
Every Buffalo suited up scored, including sophomore call-up Justin Kakala (two points, five rebounds). Kenny Wooten dominated in the post en route to finishing with 15 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks in limited action. Tydus Verhoeven turned in a game-high 17 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Anand Hundal added 10 points.
Navneet Khosa led Kimball (2-8, 8-14) with points.
East Union 58, Lathrop 48
Blake Greenlee scored 15 and Jesse Anzar chipped in with 12 to lead the Lancers past the Spartans.
JoJo Espinoza also helped East Union’s cause with his 10 points.
Lathrop 65, East Union 44
Isaiah Victor helped the Spartans get off to a hot start, as he made three of his five 3-pointers in the first half and ended up with 20 points, four assists and two steals.
Braydon Rollins added nine points and three assists for Lathrop (6-4, 12-7), which led 30-17 at halftime.
Kimball 76, Manteca 53
The visiting Jaguars jumped out to a 35-22 halftime lead and didn’t look back, as Kai Ballungay led all scorers with 21 points.
Tarnjot Singh and Saleem Safi recorded 14 and 12 points for Manteca (6-4, 11-11), respectively.