TRACY — Venture Academy slowly pulled out to an 11-point halftime lead Wednesday but did not pull away any further in the second half in winning the championship of the Tracy Breakfast Lions /Tom Hawkins Girls Basketball Tournament by defeating Manteca 70-58 at Swenson Gym.
“It was a little disappointing,” Buffaloes coach Mary Ann Tolbert said. “But it felt very good to stick with them. They are a very talented team. In our last five games this was by far not our best. There were mistakes we made because we should have been more prepared.
“Their speed and their aggressiveness definitely intimidated us at times.”
Manteca (5-7) kept pace with the Mustangs (9-1) of Stockton in the second half and was outscored by just two points in the third and fourth quarters, 35-33.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our second half,” Tolbert said. “We started to move the ball better and attack. Defensively we made some adjustments but they just shot over us.
“I am really proud of my sophomore Rhiannon Gianelli and J.J. Santos came off the bench to give us some quality minutes. Leah (Manuleleua) played an amazing game and went to work in the paint.”
Foul trouble also played a part in the game.
“At one point the fouls were 9-2 against us,” Tolbert said. “I am not sure why we were not making the same contact at our end that they were drawing at their end. That changed things for us when we have to take Leah out and Lizzie (Tolbert) out and we have to worry about Rubel (Dehal) in foul trouble.
“That changes our dynamic.
All-tournament seclection Sydnee Fryer led the Buffaloes with 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals before leaving the game after three quarters with a knee injury. Elizabeth Tolbert (six points) also made the all-tournament team.
Gianelli (five points) had 12 rebounds, Dehal had 10 points and five assists, Manuleleua had seven points and Santos had six points with five rebounds and a steal.
After Tuesday’s heart-stopping 51-45 win for Venture Academy over East Union on Tuesday in the semifinals, the Mustangs had to reach deep for the championship game.
“This one was a struggle for us,” Venture Academy coach Greg Azevedo said. “We had an emotional game against East Union last night and I knew this one was going to be more of a slugfest, but I knew our girls could dig down deep and sustain.
“The emotional game was yesterday.”
The Mustangs’ Jada menchaca led all scorers with 22 points and teammate Anya Gamez (13 points) was named the tournament MVP.
East Union 70, Tracy 44
The Lancers forced 23 turnovers and dominated throughout.
“We have been pleased with our defense all pre-season,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. “Almost every team we have played this year we have held them under their scoring average.
“We have been mixing it up and changing looks.”
East Union’s Olivia Vezaldanos was named to the all-tournament team and scorched the nets for 34 points along with seven steals, four rebounds and two assists.
“We definitely wanted to finish the tournament strong,” Vezaldenos said. “It was definitely a team effort.”
Ciara Goodwin had eight points and eight rebounds for the Lancers and helped control the paint.
“Offensively, we have been working a lot on taking baby steps and sealing down,” Goodwin said. “And defensively, one of our bigs is hurt right now and the girls coming off of the bench are doing a good job of holding it down for her.”
Katie Amaral led the Bulldogs (5-8) with nine points.
Agostini was pleased to finish the tournament 3-1.
“This was a nice way to end pre-season,” Agostini said. “You don’t know how your team is going to come back on short rest after playing three days in a row
“The girls executed well and played solid.”
Lathrop 34, Patterson 33
Myani Thornton showed in the final minute why she deserved to be an all-tournament selection.
The Spartans sophomore converted a steal into a free throw with 57 seconds remaining and with 8.7 seconds left made another free throw following an offensive rebound. Those two free throws loomed large as Samantha Dougherty hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the Tigers to close to within a point.
Lathrop (6-4) had big opening and closing quarters – 15 and 16 points, respectively – but stalled in between, getting shut out in the second and scoring just three in the third.
“We were playing with intensity in the first quarter,” Spartans coach Dwayne Davis said. “But we have to understand that we can’t have that lull after a good start. We have to get through that and when we get a lead we definitely have to put our foot on the pedal and close a team out.
“We start league next week and we start against Manteca and we know they are going to bring it every second. They run the entire game and that is how we want to play.”
Jordan Rodriguez of the Tigers (3-6) led all scorers with 13 points and Thornton had 12.