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Johansen press no match for Buffaloes

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Gerry Cooper brings down a rebound during first half action during the Buffaloes' 90-70 win over the Johansen Vikings Thursday.


POSTED December 4, 2009 2:58 a.m.
MODESTO – Manteca High is just trying to get better each time it takes the court, and the Buffaloes seem to be doing just that with another impressive outing in their second round 90-70 win over Johansen in the Modesto City Classic Thursday at Enochs High.

The Buffaloes (2-0) opened the tournament with back-to-back wins, setting up a contest with the winner of the Enochs-Pitman matchup and a berth to the championship round on the line. Johansen was up to the challenge in the first period, trailing 25-21, but a breakout second quarter left the Vikings looking up to a 53-34 halftime deficit.

“Johansen is a scrappy team and they are going to press you the whole game,” Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion said.  “We were able to find the open guy out of the press, and once you pass out of that double-team you have a guy that is wide-open for a layup.

“So we got some easy buckets in the second quarter and were able to build off those.”

Manteca junior E.J. Godfrey reaped the benefits of the backcourt’s labor, racing out to 16 first-half points on a host of uncontested layups. Once Manteca began breaking the Johansen press effectively, it was able to put the game out of reach.

“Coming into the game we saw a little bit of them (Wednesday) so we knew they were coming with the press,” Manteca leading scorer Kiwi Gardner said. “But we go over our press daily in practice, so we just try and stay calm and break out of it.

“We work hard on it for 20-25 minutes a practice and hard work pays off.”

Gardner showed a consistent ability to score, going into halftime with nine points and finishing the game with 19. Gerry Cooper added 15 for Manteca, while Ernie Pimentel chipped in with nine.

Manteca (2-0) will undoubtedly be a force in the upcoming Valley Oak League season, boasting a powerful, big-bodied front court, accompanied by arguably the best backcourt player in the league. The team finds itself taking small steps in the right direction and have no plans of changing its focus with a preseason tournament title looming two wins away.

“Our focus is strictly on getting better each game,” Asuncion said. “Obviously, we want to improve and work ourselves into being the best team we can be for league and then hopefully advance to the playoffs.

“Nothing has changed about that now, we have the same focus. We’ll have the winner of two good teams in Enochs and Pitman, so it will be good to see both of those teams early on.”

The bracket championship is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tipoff.

East Union 86, Central Valley 55
It didn’t take long for the Lancers to hand their first-year head coach his first victory, handling VOL foe Central Valley with ease in the second day of the Modesto City Tournament’s Downey bracket.

East Union (1-1) trailed the Hawks at halftime 38-34, but came out scorching in the second half, outscoring Central Valley 52-17. The win was a positive rebound from the Lancers’ loss to Davis Wednesday and it sets East Union up with a consolation title game against the Downey Knights.

“The first thing we didn’t want to do was overlook them because they only have a couple seniors,” Lancer head coach Brett Lewis said. “We didn’t overlook them, they just played a great first half. We could have tanked in the second half, but we pulled it out.”

Jordan Kron led all scorers with  22 points, while teammates Tyler Bylow (17 points, five 3-pointers), TeeJay Gordon (15 points), Robert Vaughn (10 points) and Ricky Inderbitzin (eight points, eight rebounds) rounded out the Lancer leaders.

Beyer 59, Lathrop 46
The Spartans were not able to land their first win, but outscoring Beyer High over the final two periods of basketball is surely an improvement head coach J.J. Ramirez will gladly accept. Umar Muriset got loose for a game-high 22 points and teammates Justin Fernandez and Ernesto Lua finished with eight and four points, respectively.

Lathrop will continue tournament play today with a 3:30 p.m. contest against Central Catholic.

Beyer 64, Lathrop 32
The Spartans ran into a tough Beyer squad, falling to the Patriots during the second day of the Modesto City Classic Thursday. Marcus Conley led the Spartans with 13 points. Lathrop will be back on the court today, when they meet up with the Central Catholic Raiders.
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