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Navarro’s defense keys Manteca win over Mustangs

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POSTED January 6, 2010 2:36 a.m.
OAKDALE — The Manteca Buffaloes held a slim 24-17 halftime lead and never relinquished it during a 45-34 Valley Oak League opening win over the Oakdale Mustangs Tuesday.

The Buffaloes (1-0 VOL, 8-4 overall) pushed themselves ahead of Oakdale (0-1, 9-2) for what will be a season-long dogfight for VOL supremacy. Manteca used a team effort on the offensive end and the services of Mariah Navarro on defense to limit Mustangs leading scorer Cassandra Clark, who was held to just nine points with no 3-pointers.

“Mariah did an outstanding job on Cassandra,” Manteca head coach Andrea Hiatt said. “She followed her around all night. We didn’t help out; she just did a good job taking her out of the game.”

Clark entered the game averaging 20.7 points per game but had no answer for Navarro’s defensive intensity. Once Manteca was able to render Clark ineffective, the Buffaloes pulled away with three players finishing in double-figures.

“We knew going into this game that Sharon (Washington) and Cassandra Clark were going to cancel each other out.” Hiatt said. “It was going to be up to the rest of our girls to determine who would win or lose this game.”

Davina Bennett led a balanced Manteca scoring attack with 12 points and teammate Cynthia Perez added 11. Freshman Mikayla Hasal had an impressive VOL debut, scoring 10 points and sinking four valuable free throws down the stretch.

Washington added nine, breaking a season-long streak of finishing in double-digits in the scoring column.

The Buffaloes will have to put the tone-setting win behind them in a hurry with a visit from Lathrop Thursday followed by a trip to Weston Ranch looming Friday.

“We have to take this one game at a time,” Hiatt said. “That’s really our approach. We can’t look past Lathrop in any way.

“As soon as you start looking past a team, that’s when they creep up and bite you.”

Sierra 36, Sonora 34
SONORA — The visiting Timberwolves (1-0, 6-5), who have won three straight and six of their last seven, made a big statement with Tuesday’s victory over an annual contender.

The game is the first of three brutal draws to begin league action, with Ceres and defending champion East Union up next this week.

“I don’t’ want to say we were the underdogs, because in our minds we weren’t,” first-year head coach Steve Unterholzner said. “We went up there and played our basketball. We started slow while we tried figuring out their scheme, but in the end it was our defense that won the game.”

Sierra, which trailed by 10 in the third and scored 10 unanswered to tie it at 26 with 2 minutes left in the third, had a chance to pull away in the waning moments but turned the ball over while attempting to inbound it from under Sonora’s hoop with 5 seconds remaining.

But the Timberwolves managed to grab the game’s final possession when Michelle Arroyo stole Sonora’s inbounds pass and covered up as time expired.

Jasmine Currimao had 10 points to lead Sierra offensively, and the team fed off the defensive efforts of Stephanie Vanni, who kept Sonora’s season scoring leader, Kelli Keefe, without a point.

Central Valley 29, Lathrop 26
LATHROP — The Spartans (0-1, 2-9) missed out on an opportunity to win their first-ever VOL contest on their first try, but Central Valley was able to avoid the  upset with two free throws with 5 seconds to go.

Brittany Rallios turned in seven points and six rebounds for Lathrop. Jasmine Elder and freshman Jazlyn Simon, who each added six points, knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers with 2 minutes left to close the Spartans in by one.

“We were able to get into our offense even when they pressed us, we just couldn’t covert,” Lathrop coach Ed Fang said. “I was pleased that we were able to stay in the game the whole way, but we missed too many inside shots.”
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