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Buffaloes all alone atop VOL

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POSTED January 12, 2013 12:04 a.m.

TRACY – In Manteca’s good moments, the Buffaloes were draining 3s, grabbing any rebound available and turning up high-intensity team-defense for minutes at a time.

The not-so-good-moments are what enabled the Kimball Jaguars to stay close enough in a 63-52 loss to Manteca Friday.

The Valley Oak League showdown of the two unbeatens featured big-game intensity from the start, with Manteca snatching control with a deep buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Jessica Hasal (14 points, five rebounds) to close the first. It put Manteca up by six and opened up the door on a 10-3 run to close the half and put Manteca up 32-20.

Kimball was seemingly down for the count as Manteca opened the second half with three consecutive 3-pointers – by Courtney Range, Jessica and Mikayla Hasal – for a fast 20-point lead.

“Manteca did a good job of coming out and jumping on us,” Kimball head coach Miguel Granillo said. “They have a good team with a lot of good-shooting guards.

“They really did an excellent job of outrebounding us tonight.”

Range (19 points) was the integral piece in the rebounding column, yanking down a game-high 23 boards, more than half of the Buffaloes’ 41. Kimball was only able to find possession of 14 rebounds, failing miserably to keep up with Range, who got three rebounds in a possession twice.

Between the rebounding edge, a collective team effort on the defensive end and Manteca held control of the contest throughout. The Jaguars were able to chop Manteca’s lead to 10 (47-37) early in the fourth, but Noni Kuumba’s effort (19 points) alone simply would not be enough. Elizabeth Tolbert closed with six of her 14 in the fourth, teaming with Hasal and Range to fend off Kimball.

The manner in which the Buffaloes had to fend off the Jaguars, avoiding defensive break downs, unforced turnovers and perimeter misses, was likely Manteca’s primary area of concern.

“It was a hot and cold game,” Manteca head coach Cody Norman said. “Kimball’s coaching staff made the right call to go to a zone and make us prove that we could keep shooting. We couldn’t hit a shot for a few possessions after our run. That’s how basketball is you’ll get hot and then you’ll go dry. In the fourth quarter it is just heart-wrenching.

“My hat’s off to Kimball, they didn’t die off; we let off and I think we were just  happy being up 20 points.”

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