LATHROP — Undefeated in league Valley Oak League coming into Tuesday night’s home contest with Sierra, Lathrop watched the Timberwolves score the game’s first seven points before closing the first quarter on a 12-2 run on the way to a 69-43 win.
“Just being able to hang with a team that is undefeated in league and to be ahead of them at first is an upswing for us,” Timberwolves coach Larissa Founts-Bergerson said. “We are kids who are in the infancy stage of their development going against kids who have developed.
“It makes me hopeful for the future.”
Although the Spartans (12-0 VOL, 19-4 overall) were in control, they still had problems on the glass. Sierra (2-10, 9-16) owned the boards 47-27 with the Timberwolves grabbing 22 offensive rebounds.
“I don’t want to say that we were looking ahead,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “But there was no sense of urgency to anything that we were doing. We knew that we were able to get the ball where we needed to on the floor, but rebounding wise we stood and watched for the first four or five minutes of the game.
“My bigs have to have a sense of urgency in battling down low. My guards can apply a lot of pressure but a lot of that pressure is alleviated when my bigs are standing flat-footed. They have to pursue the ball and we did that much better in the second half.”
The Spartans’ Myani Thornton ended the first half on a defensive blitz when she got three of her eight steals in the final minute of the second quarter. She then exploded in the third quarter when she scored 14 of her game-high 27 points. She also had four assists and four rebounds.
“My offense has been lacking coming into the game,” Thornton said. “So, I concentrated on my defense and the offense came with it.”
After Thornton, the Lathrop attack was balanced with Mary Cotton (11 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals) and Kaysey Matela (three steals, two assists) each scoring nine points apiece.
Matela’s last field goal came on a drive when she was knocked to the floor and she flipped the ball up on her way down and banked it in.
“I just saw the open lane,” Matela said. “I went for it and fell down, I threw it up and it went in.
“In the first half we were kind of down and in the second half we picked it up.”
Raiann Prieto tallied 10 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves and Lindsey Walljasper six points and 11 rebounds.
One game ahead of Kimball of Tracy with two games left on the league schedule, the Spartans host the Jaguars on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a first-place showdown.
Lathrop 38, Sierra 18
Hailey Hunter poured in 15 points for the Spartans.
Maddi Willox scored all eight of her points for the Timberwolves in the fourth quarter.
Lathrop 27, Sierra 22
Amaha Ikechiuku scored eight points for the Spartans while Desiree Ambatali chipped in six.
Inessa Villanueva and Daleen Sidhu posted eight points each for the Timberwolves.