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ROUNDUP: Lathrop’s boys hoops upset bid comes up short
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MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Lathrop High’s boys basketball team missed a big opportunity Friday night.
Spartans head coach Craig Ward can still live with the result, a 71-69 loss to Western Athletic Conference champion Mountain House.
The visiting Mustangs (12-0, 18-6 overall) secured the title with the win but survived a scare after leading by as much as 17 in the first half. The thrilling finish was much different than what transpired in the first meeting between the two schools with a blossoming rivalry — an 82-68 drubbing administered by Mountain House on Jan. 25.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Ward said. “We have not been playing well lately, and usually when they go down early they just pack it up. Tonight, these guys refused to quit. I can sleep much better tonight.”
Lathrop (7-5, 15-9) trailed 37-23 at halftime but continued to chisel into the lead, outscoring the Mustangs 28-16 in the third quarter. The Spartans jumped ahead for the final time 58-56 on a pair of made free throws from sophomore center Eddie Cotton, who finished with a team-high 22 points.
Mountain House answered with six unanswered points and held on from there. Walton Whaley and Noah Urbina-Thierry each drained a 3-pointer to close Lathrop in by 1 in the final minutes, and they ended up with 19 and nine points, respectively. Amiel Adams contributed 11 points.
High-flying 6-foot-4 Mustangs forward Keenami Maggard led all scorers with 26 points, and frontcourt mate Jalen Zeno chipped in with 20.
“It was a hostile crowd, but we had good support, too,” Ward said. “The gym was rocking and it was a fun game to be a part of.”
A win would have likely improved Lathrop’s chances at making the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The top three teams in the WAC earn automatic berths, and the Spartans trail Los Banos by a game for third place with two contests remaining. Lathrop previously dropped an 82-67 decision to Los Banos and hosts the Tigers for the rematch next Tuesday.
At-large bids are also available for team’s ranked in the top 15 of their respective divisions in Divisions I-IV, and Lathrop checked in at No. 18 in D3 heading into Friday’s tilt.
“We’ll go back to work. give it everything we have next week and see where the chips fall,” Ward said.

Ripon Christian 60, Hilmar 47
RIPON — The Trans-Valley League-leading Knights (10-0, 18-7 overall) staved off a second-half comeback attempt after sitting on a 39-21 halftime lead.
Cade Alger keyed the win with 20 points, Will Gilbert added 15 and Brock Nunes provided big contributions on the glass and defense. Aidan Azevedo tallied 16 points for the Yellowjackets (3-6, 11-13).
Ripon Christian has a tough closing stretch to the regular season. It looks to secure at least a share of the TVL title next Tuesday at Riverbank before hosting rival Ripon in the finale on Feb. 8.

Ripon Christian 42, Hilmar 16

HILMAR — Morgan Van Elderen, Rilee Clark and Sarah Brown knocked down consecutive 3-point attempts to start the game, and Ripon Christian (7-3 TVL, 16-8 overall) took a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.
Van Elderen wound up with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Lexi Hilvers pitched in seven points and five boards.

Ripon 55, Hughson 50
HUGHSON — The visiting Huskies (5-6 TVL, 15-10 overall) nearly ruined senior night for playoff-bound Ripon (9-2, 18-7).
The game was tied at 28-28, and the Indians won the third quarter 17-12 and held on from there. Reina Sausedo amassed 23 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, while sister Rachel Sausedo helped with 11 points and three assists. Mikayla Vaught collected nine points, nine boards and four assists. Mia Van Lewen had eight points and five rebounds.
Hughson was paced by Kinsey Langley, who sank four 3s and finished with 16 points.

Weston Ranch 8, Central Catholic 0

STOCKTON — The Cougars (9-1-1, 14-7-1) can win the outright Valley Oak League title next week, setting up the winner-take-all clash with Sierra by trouncing Central Catholic in a makeup match.
Ottawa University-bound Robert Gonzalez scored four goals and had an assist to help pave the way for Weston Ranch. Kevin Urrutia-Hernandez, who also had an assist, and Elmer Figeroa chipped in with two goals each.
Bryan Rodriguez and Elvin Bolanos both had a goal and an assist while Ariel Silva and Edgar Molina contributed with an assist each.
The Cougars will take on the Timberwolves on Senior Night at Lathrop High's Bennie Gatto Field.

Ripon Christian 3, Waterford 0

WATERFORD — A loss to Waterford at the end of last season prevented Ripon Christian from reaching the postseason. The Knights (9-1-2, 14-2-4 overall) redeemed themselves Friday and even clinched a top-three spot in the Southern Athletic League along with a playoff berth.
Sophomore forward Elle Van Wyngarden accounted for all three goals, with assists coming from Thea Vander Meulen and Rachel Oosterman.  Goalie Nicole Chapman came up with a big save in the second half to keep Ripon Christian ahead.
The Knights cap the regular season against Gustine at home next Tuesday and at first-place Orestimba two days later.