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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Kerena Malone, Manteca basketball
AOW Kerena Malone
Kerena Malone

Malone and the rest of the Buffaloes’ seniors did not want to see rivals celebrate on their home floor last Thursday.

They spoiled East Union’s bid to claim at least a share of a third straight Valley Oak League championship, avenging one of their losses with a convincing 46-37 victory in which Manteca led wire-to-wire.

The 6-foot-1 center played a big part in Manteca’s memorable senior night, finishing with game-highs 14 points and three blocks along with 12 rebounds. Malone went down with a leg cramp in the fourth quarter, and her absence was felt, as East Union was able to cut a 17-point deficit to six, 42-36.

Manteca did not score for the first six minutes of the final period as it clung to its dwindling lead. Malone checked back in and ended the drought with a layup with 1:50 remaining.

“Kerena is huge for us,” Manteca coach Oscar Calix said after the game. “Over the summer, she just got so much better. She took a huge jump and became one of our key players for the season. When she came out of the game it really hurt us. Kerena protects our middle.” 

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Malone helped Manteca knock off its other rival. She tallied four points and 10 rebounds in the 48-35 win over Sierra.

For the season, she averages 8.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.