Valley Oak League-leading Sierra took Lathrop’s best punch and cruised to a 65-59 victory Thursday night.
The host Spartans (2-4 VOL, 3-17 overall) outscored Sierra 19-10 in the fourth quarter to make it respectable, but coach Nathan McGrath was glad to see his team compete well against the area’s top squad.
Sierra (6-0, 17-2), though, had its way in the post, where Hunter Johnson pumped in 20 points and 6-foot-8 Joshua Patton added 17.
“We played one of our better games all season tonight,” McGrath said. “We played with more fight and attitude than we have all season long which was nice. We moved the ball well and even though we gave up 65 points it was one of our better defensive efforts. We’re getting there, getting better.”
The Timberwolves sat on a 32-25 cushion and were able to widen the lead in the third thanks to three technical fouls called on Lathrop. Sierra made it hurt, scoring nine points, including a 3-pointer off those technicals. The lead was at 55-40 heading into the fourth.
“We went from being down five at one point to down 12 midway through the third quarter, which is not a good situation against a team like Sierra,” McGrath said. “That took the wind out of our sails.”
Lathrop guard Isaiah Ellis led all scorers with 21 points but was held to just four points in the opening half. Tarman Bajwa kept the Spartans within range in the early going, as he hit his first four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Freshman Junior Ballard contributed 12 points.
“Tarman shot the lights out and kept us in the game,” McGrath said. “They had to guard him differently in the second half, which opened up lanes for Isaiah and Junior. That was probably (Bajway’s) best game.”
Manteca 54, Oakdale 36
The Buffaloes (5-1, 13-5) ended the game on a 16-4 run to hold off scrappy Oakdale (1-5, 5-12) at Winter Gym. Manteca, coming off Tuesday’s 48-40 loss at Sierra in a battle for first place, led 38-32 after three quarters.
“It was one of those games,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “I don’t think we were really flat, but Tuesday was such an emotional game that may have drained us a little bit. We didn’t play terrible but we didn’t play great either.”
An improved defensive effort in the second half helped Manteca pull away. Ju’Juan Freeman sparked the Buffaloes by scoring all seven of his points over the final two quarters, and Frankie Lopez buried two 3-pointers.
Anand Hundal led the way with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks. Tydus Verhoeven had just two points but chipped in nine rebounds and four blocks. Marcus Montano registered 12 points and seven assists. Shane Baxter paced Oakdale with 14 points.
Central Catholic 67, East Union 41
Gyse Hulsebosch poured in 22 points, but it was otherwise a struggle on the offensive end for the host Lancers (0-6, 6-13).
East Union had Central Catholic (3-3, 11-7) in its sights down 26-21 at halftime before the Raiders put together a 25-point outburst in the third. Drew Loya and Jordan Boddie led Central with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
“We’ve been having issues with third quarters in our past five games,” East Union coach Ryan Tarr said. “We talked about what we needed to execute coming out of halftime and we just couldn’t get it done. We couldn’t have shot the ball as bad as we did tonight, except for Gyse. I was hoping those shots would fall in the second half and it didn’t happen. (Central Catholic) got a little momentum going early in the second half and it just made for a bad combination.”
Manteca 47, Oakdale 32
The Buffaloes rolled despite playing without their starting point guard and leading scorer.
Ascari Johnson picked up the slack with 14 points, Justin Kakala had 12 and Jacob Tolbert contributed eight.
Sierra 51, Lathrop 44
Victor Elijah (13 points), Jamille Grady (12 points) and Bikram Thiara (10 points) were part of a balanced scoring effort for visiting Sierra. Isaias Hunter scored 13 points for the Spartans.
Manteca 61, Oakdale 23
The Buffaloes (6-0, 14-2) blasted out the gates with a 21-6 lead and continued to widen the gap from there.
Antwann Taylor’s 16 points headed a balanced scoring effort. Gino Campiotti added 13 and Cameron Reis had 10.
Lathrop 61, Sierra 56
The Spartans (3-3, 6-6) held on for the win after leading 32-14 at halftime.
Michael Ballard led Lathrop with 22 points and four assists, while Colin Weis and Andres Villegas had 10 apiece.