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Defense opens up offense for Buffaloes

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Manteca High's Dallas Mould (24) and Mariah Navarro (11) put on the defensive pressure during Manteca's VOL win over the Lathrop Spartans.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 8, 2010 2:33 a.m.
Different Manteca Buffaloes took turns carrying the load.

Davina Bennett handled the first leg, racing out to a quick 10 points in the game’s first 5 ½ minutes. Then up stepped Sharon Washington, who tallied 12 first-half points and dished out a handful of assists. Cynthia Perez rounded out the Buffaloes’ trifecta, pushing Manteca ahead for good with 14 points in the second and third quarters combined in a 76-45 Valley Oak League win over visiting Lathrop.

The Buffaloes (2-0 VOL, 9-4 overall) never trailed in the contest, building on a 24-13 first-quarter lead after Lathrop opened the second quarter with a brief 9-5 run. Bennett was the prime obstacle in the Spartans’ way, scoring on five quick layups and starting Manteca’s uptempo style game by dominating on the boards.

“I always expect that from Davina,” Manteca head coach Andrea Hiatt said. “She runs the court well. She gets down there to where Mikayla (Hasal) and Sharon are able to give her nice passes and she’ll put them in.

“If she can run the lane, she’s going to score.”

Lathrop showed signs of the resiliency it’s going to take to elevate its play in the VOL. The Spartans competed throughout the contest, but had no answer for a Buffaloes squad that dominated 23-5 in the pivotal third quarter.

“Our effort was there, especially in the first half,” Lathrop head coach Ed Fang. “We were able to do what we wanted to do, but they beat us down the court a lot of the time and were able to hit the open 3’s and the open slashers going to the basket.

“We gained a lot of experience playing a well-balanced, well-coached team.”

Manteca never took the Spartans lightly, attacking the rim on offense and trapping and pressing for three full quarters on defense. Even after halftime, the Buffaloes had no interest in letting Lathrop back in the contest.

“Our defense is what we talked about at halftime,” Hiatt said. “We weren’t worried about our points, because we were scoring. I was more concerned about our defense; we were starting to get lazy and letting people just kind of drive to the lane.

“That’s the kind of stuff that just can’t happen.”

Perez and Washington led all scorers with 16 points apiece and Bennett finished with 11. Lathrop (0-2, 2-10) was led by Jazlyn Simon and Brittany Rallios, both of whom finished with 11.

Manteca will have to put an impressive performance behind them and prepare for a tough matchup with Weston Ranch at 7:15 p.m. Weston Ranch comes into the contest 2-0 in league play and will give the Buffaloes their stiffest test thus far in the young VOL season.

“We are definitely going to need a team effort against Weston Ranch,” Hiatt said. “When we play like a team, we’re pretty tough. When we start getting erratic and missing things, we start getting frustrated.

“So if we can just maintain our composure, play our game and pass the ball, we’ll be pretty tough.”

The Spartans will try and get on track when they make the trek to Oakdale to take on the Mustangs.
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