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Manteca evens score with fellow co-champion East Union

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Jasmine Odell gets Manteca in transition after pulling down an important rebound in the fourth quarter at East Union Friday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 18, 2012 12:47 a.m.

So which school has the better girls basketball team, East Union or Manteca?

Unless the two find a way to meet in the playoffs to settle the score, that question was left unanswered Friday night at Dalben Center.

For now we’ll call it a draw, one that both sides seem to be content with.

Manteca won the Valley Oak League finale 48-42 to force a title share between the intracity rivals. The Buffaloes (12-2, 24-3 overall) captured the outright championship last season, while East Union (12-2, 22-4) seized at least a piece of the crown in six out of the last eight.

“Honestly, I’m happy for both teams,” said Shalane Jackson, East Union’s standout senior. “We still won the title and I have a lot of friends on Manteca, so it was nice that we got to share the title. Of course, we always want to take it all for ourselves, so it was kind of bittersweet.”

Limiting Jackson’s scoring production was half of Manteca’s game plan. The Buffaloes also wanted to take advantage of their superior depth, keeping players fresh by constantly replacing players throughout.

They were successful on both fronts.

“We knew our legs were going to win us this game,” Manteca coach Andrea Hiatt said.

Jackson was held to just five points, though she did rack up 10 rebounds and eight assists. Sophomore forward Tiare Tu’uga, the other half of the Lancers’ outstanding 1-2 punch, had a quiet 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Compare that to what they did the first time they faced the Buffaloes on Jan. 20. The San Francisco State-bound Jackson poured in 21 points and 17 rebounds, and Tu’uga added 15 and 14 in a 63-52 win for the Lancers.

By bottling up both players, Manteca essentially dared the Lancers to win the game from the perimeter. For a while, it appeared that the plan may backfire.

Alison Telles caught fire in the second quarter, which started with her Lancers down 10-3. She dropped down four of her five 3-pointers in the second to rally East Union to a 23-20 halftime lead. Telles finished with 15 points, and Piasecki, who converted two 3s, added 10.

“Our game plan tonight was to not let Shalane touch the ball, because a lot of their offense goes through her,” Hiatt said. “Either she’s scoring or she is dishing down to Tia.

“At the start we left some other people open … and Telles hit some big shots for them. That just shows that they have some shooters you have to respect. In the second half we changed up our zone a little bit because of her.”

The second half belonged to energetic Jasmine Odell and the rest of the Buffaloes.

Odell scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the third quarter, when she also came up with three big steals. Her end-to-end effort was just the lift Manteca needed to shift the momentum.

“I don’t know what it was, just an adrenaline rush I got,” said Odell, who also grabbed eight rebounds. “I don’t like to see the team down, so I just tried to do what I could for them.”

The Buffaloes took a 39-34 lead into the fourth quarter and staked its largest lead at 48-37 with 4:25 to go when Odell took a nice pass from Karleasha Thompson (six points, six rebounds, five steals) for an easy layup. Those were the final points of the game for Manteca, but East Union didn’t have enough to mount a serious comeback.

Mikayla Hasal contributed nine points and five assists to Manteca’s big win, while Mia Ramirez added eight points.

“We didn’t prepare to be the first runner-up,” Hiatt said. “We came in here planning to win the game. We were on a mission. We don’t consider this an upset, but we did beat a very good team.”

Both squads are now in wait-and-see mode. They will find out Sunday afternoon where they are seeded in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs. East Union was No. 4 in the latest postseason power ratings, while Manteca was seventh.

Sophomore

East Union 45, Manteca 29

The Squires closed out the season strong behind Marina Salyer’s 15 points. Sam Hines and Victoria Vezaldenos chipped in nine and eight, respectively.

McKenna Balmut accounted for most of Manteca’s scoring, firing a game-high 18 points.

Freshman

East Union 35, Manteca 22

Tia Torio and Anna Wood scored 13 and 12 points as the Pages (12-2, 21-4) completed a second-place finish in the VOL.

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