Sierra junior Joshua Patton amplified the home crowd during the first two minutes of the second half Thursday night.
After the Timberwolves (6-0 Valley Oak League, 13-5 overall) came out of the locker rooms trailing by a bucket, Patton helped spark an 18-6 third-quarter run with back-to-back blocks and a rim-bending dunk that propelled Sierra to a 64-48 victory.
“He was very active,” Sierra head coach Scott Thomason said. “(Patton) was relentless. He was altering his shots, he was getting rebounds, he was running the floor and his hook shot was coming along. I was very proud of his effort.”
Patton (10 points, five rebounds, two blocks, two steals) only had two points in the first half, but his play was instrumental to start off the second.
After Sierra’s Devin Nunez (10 points, two assists) knotted the game at 25 with a reverse layup, Patton swatted two consecutive Lathrop (3-3, 10-8) shots and handed Sierra a 27-25 lead with an emphatic slam.
The Timberwolves never trailed again.
“We knew we had to come out and match their intensity,” Lathrop head coach Nate McGrath said. “The one thing Sierra does is they get after it defensively all four quarters -- there’s the difference. They played intense defense for four quarters and we played intense defense for two quarters.”
Sierra’s Jakob Gallagher had a solid third quarter. Gallagher (seven points, one steal) got to the free-throw line and hit a 3-ball that stretched his squad’s lead to seven. The T’Wolves went 9 of 13 from the foul line in the third alone and led by 10 after 24 minutes. They closed the fourth quarter on a 23-17 run, which included 10 from junior standout Hunter Johnson.
Johnson finished with a game-high 18 points, plus had five rebounds to go with two steals.
“We feel it’s important to get off to a great start, but at the same time you don’t panic,” Thomason said. “Still got a lot of time left. One possession at a time…and the way Lathrop plays they’ll give you chances to get back in the game -- and that’s what we did.”
Lathrop started off well and opened with a 12-6 lead in the first quarter. Daniel Wyatt (six points, four rebounds, two steals) scored three straight and made it a one-point game before Nunez hit a triple to take a 14-13 lead after the first quarter.
Lathrop outscored the T’Wolves by three in the second but only mustered two field goals in the third quarter with buckets from Nilo Yuson (13 points) and Eric Spencer (six points, four rebounds).
“They’re a good team,” Thomason said of Lathrop. “They got great talent and good athletes that can run the floor. They’re good in the transition game and they got good guard play. We respect them a lot and we know the next time we play them it will be an even tougher game.”
Sierra, which plays Oakdale on the road Saturday at 7:15 p.m., also received six points, four assists and four rebounds from senior Bryson Sanders.
Lathrop was led by Nicholaus Obazuaye’s 14 points, five rebounds, three assists a block and two steals. Obazuaye had 13 of his 14 in the fourth and was all but four of Lathrop’s fourth-quarter total.
Isaiah Ellis finished with six and TJ Conley added five to go with two steals for Lathrop, who will host Manteca on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
Sierra 43, Lathrop 40
Tanner Peterson led the T’Wolves with 13 points and Brian Terrell netted 10. Jess Spivey added nine against the Spartans (1-5 VOL), who were led by Mike Osorno’s 12 points. Parinder Singh and Isaiah Ward combined for 20 against Sierra, which hit 2 of 3 free throws late to seal it including one from Mark Paute with 21 seconds remaining.
Sierra 43, Lathrop 33
Jamille Grady scored 12 and Marcos Castillo 11 for the T’Wolves, who improved to 4-2 VOL, 9-3 overall. The Spartans were led by Ariz Bringas (10 points) and Anthony Blasé’s eight points and 10 rebounds.