Dave Asuncion slammed his clipboard to the hardwood violently during the third quarter of Thursday’s Valley Oak League showdown at Winter Gym.
Manteca’s 10th-year head coach may not have approved of the referee’s decisions at that moment, but he really had no reason to worry.
Weston Ranch never pulled within single digits in the second half, and after a 57-41 Manteca victory, the Buffaloes evened their VOL record to 1-1, 9-6 overall.
The youthful Cougars (0-2 VOL, 3-10) gave up the game’s first 11 points and trailed 21-5 after the first.
The deficit was too much for Weston Ranch, who never trailed by more than 17 but never pulled closer than nine after the first frame.
“We’ve had a couple of good starts and let them slip away,” Asuncion said. “So being able to maintain a lead was nice finally. Weston Ranch is young and they work hard. We were just able to take care of the basketball at the end and execute down the stretch.
“Obviously you never want to fall to 0-2, so it was a big win. It’s a tight, competitive league, so every win is important.”
Manteca overpowered coach Chris Teevan’s Cougars on the glass and inside the paint. The Buffaloes’ 6-foot, 6-inch senior Mikey Hatfield went to work early and scored six points on Manteca’s 11-0 run to open the contest. Hatfield finished with a game-high 23 points and 14 rebounds.
After Weston Ranch junior Jazz Swanson splashed a 3-pointer to make 29-17 going into the half, Hatfield came out in the third quarter and scored the first four points to extend Manteca’s lead to 16.
“A team like that that doesn’t have a lot of size, (Hatfield) has to play big like that,” Asuncion added. “We were able to find him the ball and he was able to finish around the rim. He did a great job for us.”
Sophomore Josh Dilg did a great job for Weston Ranch as well.
Dilg answered Hatfield’s back-to-back buckets with consecutive scores of his own to make it 33-25. Dilg scored a two off an offensive rebound and then splashed a trey off one of Jaelen Ragsdale’s four total assists. Dilg finished with 15 points, three assists, four rebounds and two steals.
“Great effort, great player,” Teevan said of Dilg. “He works hard at his craft, and that’s just a product of his preparation in the summer time. He’s young and does a lot of stuff that goes unnoticed. He’s one of our best passers, probably one of our better defenders, charge-takers, rebounders for a guard, great penetrator and he’s a pretty smart player.”
Dilg scored nine of The Ranch’s 13 third-quarter points, but Hatfield came back even harder in the fourth. The Manteca big man netted 11 in the final eight minutes, which included four on Manteca’s final 6-0 run to close the game after Swanson (nine points) splashed a triple with 3:00 left to play.
Weston Ranch won the second quarter by four but lost the third and fourth quarters by two.
“We played pretty well the rest of the way,” Teevan concluded. “The beginning of the game we just had no energy. We obviously have to make some changes in the starting lineup.
“We had open shots, we just have to make them. I was happy with the offense. Every team in (VOL) is the same, in my opinion. And coach Asuncion, to me, is a real good friend of mine but he’s also the best coach in the area to me. Anytime you play Manteca it’s going to be difficult. But it comes down to who scores in the paint, and we didn’t do a good enough job. We’re never going to win that battle, but we can’t get overwhelmed by it if that makes sense.”
Manteca’s 6-6 freshman Tydus Verhoeven had a solid game hauling in seven boards and scoring eight. Miguel Lopez had six, Buddy Reeder seven and Stephen Ruble and Joe Menzel four.
Weston Ranch received six from Jerico Gonzales on two 3s, and Ragsdale was limited to just five points and was held scoreless in the second half. Senior J’Son Moten chipped in four.
“I’m happy with our effort, but at some point you have to win games,” Teevan concluded. “We’re not a school that accepts losing and not winning championships, and I don’t think our guys do either. They’re down right now and we need to find a way to pick it up.”
Manteca visits Kimball on Tuesday, while the Cougars try to pick it up against Oakdale at home.
Manteca 55, W. Ranch 47
The Buffaloes trailed by 10 at the halftime break, then closed the game by outscoring the Cougars 30-12 it the second half. Manteca’s Anand Hunda had 15, Tyler Gomes 14 and Frankie Lopez 11. Tre Simmons of Weston Ranch finished with a game-high 27 (six treys).
Manteca 63, W. Ranch 48
Ryan Brock led the Buffaloes (2-0, 5-7) with 21 points and Eddie Santos netted 14. Inder Randhawa and Oswaldo Garcia both pitched in with six..