When both teams can manage only one double-digit quarter apiece, it is a bet that defense carried the night. That is what happened Wednesday when Manteca came away with a 36-31 Valley Oak League boys basketball victory over visiting Sierra at Winter Gym.
“It was a defensive battle,” said Buffaloes coach Dean Balco who was filling in for Jason Hitt. “We have been living and dying on our defense and rebounding and that saved us tonight.
“Sierra did a good job. They sagged a lot and took away our inside game and took away our driving.”
Trailing 27-20 entering the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves (1-2, 7-8) battled to within 32-29 on an Arvin Chohan field goal with 1:18 left in the game. Ryan Inderbitzin (seven points, four rebounds, two blocks) promptly answered for Manteca (3-0, 10-7) on a drive to make the score 34-29.
Semaj Moore added a pair of free throws for Sierra to come within three points again, but that is as close as the game would get.
“It was just a real physical game,” Inderbitzin said. “We just had to play through the contact and let the game play out.
“They knew how to play us, and we just had to adjust to what they were doing defensively and try and score off of that.”
Mehtaj Mehrok was high-point for Manteca and flirted with a double-double at nine points and eight rebounds with four blocks.
“They knew how to get us in the paint,” Mehrok said. They sagged down a little bit and they were able to hit some shots from the outside.
“We just had to play physical the whole time.”
Justice Chase added six points and three rebounds for the Buffaloes.
“They are a way better team than we thought they were,” Chase said. “They fought and we kept fighting. We just had to stay together as a team.
“We had a bad offensive night, and it was our defense that kept us in the game. It was their Number 0 (Chohan) that was doing stuff.”
Only two Timberwolves scored more than three points — Moore (four rebounds) with 10 points and Chohan (four steals, two rebounds) with high-point honors at 14.
“At times we have to play a little ugly to make it competitive and I wish we would have made a couple of more shots,” Sierra coach Eddie Morales said. “This was a typical, physical Manteca-Sierra game.
“I thought we had a chance at the end, but it just didn’t go our way.”
Manteca 59, Sierra 27
The Buffaloes’ Bryson Davis shared high-point honors with the Timberwolves Richard Nguyen at 11.
Payton Nieman added nine points and Chris Cardoza eight for Manteca.