SACRAMENTO – Austin Haro’s hot hand and six treys weren’t enough for Manteca during the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs Wednesday night.
The No. 13 seeded Buffaloes (19-9) went ice cold for a critical four-minute, second-half stretch and allowed Christian Brothers to record 15 unanswered points that eventually lifted the fourth-seeded Falcons into the second round, 63-47.
Despite trailing by seven at the half, Christian Brothers (19-9) netted 50 points in the final 16 minutes, including a 22-12 third-quarter run that was capped by a buzzer-beating trey.
“After that, it went downhill from there,” said Manteca senior Austin Haro, who had a game-high 20 points on six 3s. “We started giving them open looks and easy buckets. We just lost our composure a little and weren’t producing in the second half.”
Haro stretched Manteca’s lead to four twice in the third quarter. His second triple of that stanza made it 33-29 with 3:00 left prior to the Falcons closing with an 11-4 run.
Christian Brothers senior Prestin Barnett (15 points) scored eight of those 11, which included the 3-ball that dropped as the quarter expired.
“Situational awareness,” Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion said. “We wanted the last shot (at the end of the third quarter), unfortunately we took it a little early – and that’s what happens when you make mistakes like that and they’re able to steal the momentum going into the fourth.”
Similar to the first six minutes of the first quarter, Manteca went scoreless for the first 3:41 of the fourth quarter. Marcus Montano broke a 15-0 Christian Brothers run with a field goal at the 4:19 mark that made it 49-39.
On the next possession, the Falcons built their lead to 13 with a 3 from Mason Stahley (nine points). Manteca guard Miguel Lopez (seven points, two assists) sank a floater at 3:57, and then Haro nailed his sixth 3 with 2:42 left to cut the Buffaloes’ deficit to eight.
Manteca center Mikey Hatfield hit two foul shots with 2:16 left to make it 53-46, but Manteca couldn’t pull any closer.
“Manteca did a good job at game-planning,” Christian Brothers head coach Brian Chavez said. “They came out and played hard. We had a hard time forcing turnovers, but in the second half we executed better. Our big thing was to get more ball movement and take advantage of our speed.”
Christian Brothers’ 6-foot, 4-inch senior Brandon Thompson netted nine of his 18 in the fourth, including multiple hard-nosed rebounds that prevented Manteca from mounting any comeback.
“They’re a good team,” Asuncion added. “They put up a lot of points in the second half. We had some breakdowns and lost their shooters. We struggled scoring, and that was a bad time for them to get hot on us.”
Manteca couldn’t find the net for the first 5:55 of the contest. Christian Brothers jumped out 7-0 before the Buffaloes closed on a 9-0 run in the final 2:05 of the quarter capped by a bucket from Hatfield off an offensive put back.
Haro tied the game at 12-12 with 5:27 left in the second quarter. Hatfield scored eight of Manteca’s 16 second-quarter points, including eight in a row during the final three minutes of that half.
Manteca freshman Tydus Verhoeven had two points, but he also finished with two blocks that were back-to-back with 4:00 left in the third quarter. He also hauled in nine rebounds and two steals.
Hatfield finished with 16 points and hauled in 14 rebounds in his final prep game.