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Cougars sink claws into upset-minded Buffaloes

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Cougars sink claws into upset-minded Buffaloes

Weston Ranch guard Eric Duncan dries past Manteca High’s Miguel Lopez

JAGADA CHAMBERS/The Bulletin


POSTED February 2, 2013 12:17 a.m.

While shooting and passing the basketball are important to any victory, Weston Ranch’s 53-41 triumph over Manteca was decided by neither.

Although the Cougars did well enough in both areas, defensive pressure was the deciding factor.

Manteca played as good a first half as any club against Weston Ranch, but its momentum would not last through the second half. Weston Ranch took control of the two-point contest at halftime by pressuring the ball handlers and forcing the Buffaloes backcourt into precarious situations.

Had the Buffaloes been able to handle the on-the-ball pressure, the game’s outcome could have been different.

“We held our ground and buckled down and did what we were supposed to do,” Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion said. “To be that close is where we wanted to be in the first half, but we were there last time that close.

“We knew the second half they were going to come out and turn up the pressure; we have to handle pressure.”

Weston Ranch (10-1 VOL, 16-7 overall) sent guard Eric Duncan into ball-hawking mode, and the rest of the Cougars followed suit. Daiveon Leverett came off the bench in his return to the lineup, and was a quality backstop to any penetration that wandered past Duncan.

Defensive rotations, communication and the team’s effort on the defensive glass all rose levels in the second half.

After one of its most productive spurts late in the third pulled Manteca to within four, the Buffaloes went stagnant on offense, succumbing to a final 17-7 run.

“For one, Manteca is probably the best coached team in the league and the game in the first half was at their pace,” Weston Ranch head coach Chris Teevan said. “We can play slow, but not that slow. It was similar to the last game we played them, we were only up by six at the half in the second half, I don’t know if we wore them down, but we contested three’s a lot better.

“They hit five 3s in the first; when (Austin) Haro is playing like that they are really, really good.”

Haro had the stroke early, nailing three 3-pointers in the first half and Manteca’s first bucket of the game. The long-range shooter connected for back-to-back 3s in the third to slide Manteca as close as they would come. He led Manteca with 19 points, while the Buffaloes got a strong post presence from Michael Hatfield with nine.

Dylan Alexander led the way for Weston Ranch with 16, while Duncan and Leverett finished with 13 and 10, respectively.

The Buffaloes (6-5, 13-10) held Weston Ranch to its lowest point total of the VOL season.

 

Freshman

Manteca 48, W. Ranch 47

The Buffaloes got a basket from Tyler Graves late in the contest to pull out the VOL victory over the visiting Cougars Friday.

Graves led the way for Manteca (6-5, 12-9) with 16 points, while Frankie Lopez and Ray Gallardo added 12 and 10, respectively.

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