MODESTO — Losers of eight of its first nine games of the season, Lathrop’s girls basketball team has made it back to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
The Spartans earned their berth Friday in a tiebreaking contest against Beyer, winning 60-48 behind a record-setting performance from Kierstin Constantino.
The sophomore sharpshooter set the tone with five made 3-pointers in the first quarter, finishing with a program-record nine from behind the arc to wind up with 29 points.
“Kierstin was unconscious,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “She was shooting Steph Curry 3s, I’m talking 8-9 feet from behind the arc.”
The two teams split their regular-season duels and finished in a third-place tie with 9-5 records in the Western Athletic Conference, which led to the rubber match. Only three teams out of the WAC get automatic bids.
Isa Paniagua contributed 10 points to the win Friday. Sanah Singh sank two of her own 3s and scored eight points. Freshman Alaba Olaleye, Jasmine Denning (13 rebounds) and Sydney Hanks (eight rebounds) combined for 10 points but did their part for Lathrop (13-14) in other important ways, mainly on defense.
Beyer (12-17) was paced by center Symeria James’ 13 points. The Patriots hit two 3s in the fourth quarter to stay in contention but it was too little, too late. A 22-point outburst in the third quarter gave Lathrop a 49-34 cushion.
“We came out so loose and relaxed,” Davis said. “We hit the floor with confidence we didn’t have all year.”
Lathrop has made strides in this rebuilding season after claiming back-to-back co-championships in the Valley Oak League and WAC the past two years. Davis said that the 1-8 start was a key moment for the team.
“We had to set that group of girls down and say, ‘You’re not last year’s team,” he said. “‘If you rally around each other and trust the process I guarantee we’ll be there and the end of the season and that group has bought in.
“Now, we’ll see what journey they’ll send us on next.”
The section will come out with its playoff brackets today.
OAKDALE — Sierra’s Manny Zavala and East Union’s Joe Luna (147 pounds) survived the first day of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Wrestling Championships on Friday undefeated and begin today in the semifinal bracket.
All wrestlers who compete today are guaranteed a Top 8 finish and as such will compete in the two-day SJS Masters Championships next Friday at the Stockton Arena.
East Union’s Tyler Diaz (140) along with Manteca’s Fabian Mendoza (108), Diego Rodriguez (115), Armon Bayford (184) and Dominik Neuharth (197) are in the consolation bracket.
Wrestling begins this morning at Oakdale High at 11.
CERES — Sierra placed three wrestlers in the SJS South Regional Qualifier semifinals this morning at Central Valley High.
Ezra Morel, Kami Jarman and Alexa Garcia were all undefeated Friday for the Timberwolves. East Union’s Amaiya Guyton (133) and Mackenzie Romero (172) are in the consolation bracket.