Despite playing less than five minutes of the first half because of foul trouble, wiry 6-foot-2 forward Courtney Range was still able produce her fourth 20-20 game of the season Thursday when Manteca held off upset-minded Sonora 59-53 at Winter Gym.
Range quietly scored 21 points, but she kept the Buffaloes (8-0 Valley Oak League, 14-6 overall) in control during crunchtime by grabbing 13 of her 22 rebounds in the fourth quarter. Manteca enjoyed an overwhelming 51-31 rebounding edge, and 26 of its boards came off the offensive glass.
“Having that extra couple of inches definitely goes in our favor,” Manteca coach Cody Norman said. “What also helps is that Jasmine (Odell), Abby (Behler) and Lizzie (Tolbert) do a good job of boxing out, and Courtney is always there to secure it.”
The game was far from secure for Manteca until the final seconds, though early on it had the makings of a cakewalk. The Buffaloes tallied the first eight points, and after Range picked up her second foul near the midway point of the opening quarter Mikayla Hasal (12 points) rattled in three straight layups off dribble penetration to make it 17-6 with still 2:19 remaining.
Sonora (5-2, 13-5), which never led, capped the first period with a 7-0 run.
“Sonora is just gritty,” Norman said. “They’re not going to make a whole lot of mistakes, but they come down and run the same thing every time offensively and defensively. Everything they do is done at a consistent level, and tonight we were a little inconsistent in a lot of areas.”
Range was whistled for her third foul, a questionable illegal-screen violation, just seconds into the second quarter, but Manteca was still able to stretch its lead by halftime, 29-22. Aiding its cause was Sonora’s struggles from the field and the free-throw line, where it was 3-for-13 in the first half.
“I feel like we gave up too many runs little runs, especially when he’d cut it down to around 5,” Sonora coach Amy Santos said. “We had some opportunities, especially more so in the first half where we missed some wide open baskets in the key. Our free throws weren’t very good and that killed us.”
The Wildcats, to their credit, continued to battle. Odell (8 points, 8 rebounds) scored five points during a 7-0 run that gave the Buffaloes their largest second half lead at 42-3 late in the third. Sonora closed to within four, 49-45, in the fourth on Maria Chacon’s put-back but would get no closer.
Bailey Henington poured in 19 points, five assists and five steals for Sonora. Jessie Fong added 10 points and six rebounds.