After a first quarter that saw four lead changes and two ties, Manteca went on a 17-0 run to start the second quarter and was never seriously threatened in a 46-31 Valley Oak League boys basketball victory over visiting East Union on senior night Wednesday.
“I think we did a really good job of getting our hands up defensively in the first half,” Manteca coach Jason Hitt said. “Obviously, we missed a lot of layups. The seniors got the jitters a little bit, but they pushed through.
“It’s on to the next game. We have to shoot better than we did tonight. EU is coming to our house, and they definitely want to beat us. It should be a really good game.”
The Buffaloes (7-1 VOL, 21-5 overall) entered Wednesday night’s tilt a game ahead of both East Union and Central Catholic which played each other Wednesday. Central Catholic won, 68-35. Manteca hosts the Lancers on Friday and Central Catholic next Wednesday to close out the regular season.
Should Central Catholic defeat winless and last-place Oakdale on Friday, then next Wednesday’s showdown with the Buffaloes will be for at least a share of the VOL title, if not the outright title.
Five different Manteca players scored in that pivotal second period. Santiago Sanders scored five of his team-high nine points in that quarter and added six rebounds.
“It was senior night so we came out and tried to get everyone involved,” Sanders said.
After a scoreless first half, the Buffaloes’ Ramesh Kabiri (four assists) hit six quick points in the third quarter and finished with eight points. Teammate Noah Lyons added eight points with Elijah Nelson pulling down 12 rebounds with four points.
“I was playing really nervous in the first half,” Kabiri said. “But then in the third quarter we were pushing the ball on fast breaks and I was getting easy layups.”
Two of the last three games for the Timberwolves (11-12, 2-6) were a four-point loss to Central Catholic and a five-point win over East Union. The first meeting between Sierra and Manteca was a five-point loss for the Timberwolves.
“We have had a lot of close ones lately,” Sierra coach Eddie Morales said. “Some real heartbreakers. We looked a little flat tonight. We can’t make shots consistently even when we are wide open. We missed so many layups tonight.
“We held them to under 47 points. If we could have scored more than 31, it would have been a great game. We narrowed the gap a few times to around 10 points in the second half, but we just couldn’t get it done.”
The Timberwolves’ Anthony Grady led all scorers with 13 points, and teammate Joshua Seals pulled down 10 rebounds.
Sierra closes out the VOL schedule Friday on the road at Kimball and next Wednesday at home against Oakdale. Both games are at 7:30 p.m.
Manteca 46, Sierra 21
Jayden Scarver paced the Buffaloes with 12 points and Joe Perengeli added 10.
Xavier Gaspar led the Timberwolves with 12 points.