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Freshman fires 19 points in varsity debut

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Manteca High guard Sharon Washington soars to the hoop in front of Central Valley's Vivien Fermil for two of her 11 points Thursday at Winter Gym.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED December 3, 2010 3:04 a.m.
Manteca High freshman forward Tia Tuuga said she was nervous, but she did a horrible job of showing it in her varsity debut Thursday at Winter Gymnasium.

That was pretty much the only thing she did poorly in the Buffaloes’ 76-33 rout of former Valley Oak League foe Central Valley.

Tuuga led all scorers with 19 points, dropping in 10 in the opening quarter and nine more in the third. She also had seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks — and that’s with limited playing time.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but (her teammates) made it a lot easier,” Tuuga said. “They find me in good positions for me to have easy layups.”

More of a natural wing, Tuuga starts at power forward because there is more of a need at that spot for the Buffaloes (1-0). But on Thursday, she rarely needed to take a perimeter shot.

Meanwhile, fourth-year varsity standout Sharon Washington got to be more of a point guard thanks in large part to Tuuga. This year’s Manteca squad is the deepest coach Andrea Hiatt has had in her tenure, so Washington doesn’t need to shoulder the load as much as she has in past seasons.

She finished with 11 points, six assists and four steals, spending most of her time creating shots for teammates than herself. All 12 Manteca players who suited up contributed at least a point.

Sophomore guard Mikayla Hasal pumped in nine points, while Mariah Navarro and back-up guard Karleasha Thompson added eight apiece.

“That was my goal tonight, was for everybody to score,” Washington said. “I like passing more than I do scoring anyway.”

Others had their own way of making an impact. Centers Dallas Mould and Myklyn Balmut controlled the interior, while Jimi Guibor, Jessica Reeder, Mia Ramirez and Gabby Escobedo sparked the team with scrappy play on defense.

Manteca outscored the Hawks 23-7 in the final quarter with the reserves doing most of the damage.

“At anytime we can look to our bench and put five new bodies in and not really miss a beat,” Hiatt said. “We’ve got depth with ball handling, we’ve got depth in the post and we’ve got depth with shooters. It’s nice to have.”

Being the coach, however, Hiatt exercised her right to nitpick. Though her team defended well off its full-court press, she could have done without the missed scoring opportunities.

With 3:11 to go in the first quarter, Manteca had already forced 10 turnovers but somehow trailed 7-6. The Buffaloes then went on a 14-2 tear over the final 2 ½ minutes, and it was smooth sailing from there.

Central Valley (1-1), led by 5-foot-11 forward Alyssa Long’s six points and seven rebounds, ended up with 33 giveaways.

“We should have scored more points early, we just missed point-blank layups,” Hiatt said. “We drew up the plays and they ran them well, we were getting out on the fastbreaks and we were still (missing) those easy little layups.

“I hope it’s just first-game jitters.”
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