STOCKTON — The fourth-seeded Lathrop girls basketball team couldn’t overcome a slow start and No. 3 Sacramento-West Campus held off the Spartans’ second-half rally for a 78-52 victory in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship Friday afternoon at Spanos Center.
Both squads await seeding for the start of next week’s Northern California regional tournament with pairings set to be announced Sunday.
Lathrop (23-6) stumbled early with seven of its 16 turnovers coming in the first quarter as the defending section and state champion Warriors (24-7) took advantage to surge to a 14-5 lead following Kiara Jefferson’s three-pointer.
Jefferson also connected from outside the three-point line for a 35-18 lead late in the half.
The Spartans tried their best to rally. Semajynique Steen scored eight of her 10 points in a third-quarter rally that saw Lathrop narrow the gap to 42-34.
But West Campus’ Nia Johnson and Gabby Rones made consecutive three-pointers in a 21-6 run to help pull away, and the Warriors made 10 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter to claim their second consecutive section banner.
The Warriors won their 17th game in a row behind Rones’ 25 points and Jefferson’s 22, while Johnson posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Lathrop’s Myani Thornton led the Spartans with 15 points, and teaamate Mary Cotton had 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Thornton made her first three-point shot in the opening minutes but the Spartans combined to miss their next 14 attempts (7 percent), while the Warriors were 9 of 23 (39 percent) from three-point range.
“That’s probably the best team we’ve played all year bar none,” said Spartans coach Dwayne Davis, whose club saw a four-game win streak end. “We did well but I think we let the moment get too big, too quick and by the time we settled down before we were able to play even.
“We can come back on teams that might be up on us that didn’t have this much talent, but with teams (like West Campus) having that much talent, it’s kind of hard to come back from 12- to 14-point runs,” Davis added. “We gave them second chance shots and we knew that was something we couldn’t let them do. We’re looking forward to NorCals now. What we have to learn from this (game) is that we need to play to win each possession one at a time and not worry about the score.”