MODESTO — Manteca came up with big stops when it needed to Wednesday at Central Catholic.
In a little over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, the host Raiders narrowed an eight-point lead to two but were held scoreless in the final 2:48 as Manteca came away with a 69-60 at the Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center. The Buffaloes (8-0, 16-5 overall) have opened up a three-game lead over second-place Central Catholic (5-3, 14-6) and East Union.
“I know they had a couple rim out down the stretch,” Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis said. “We dug in on defense and got some stops and kept them from getting second chances by keeping them off the offensive glass.
“They had like 12 offensive rebounds in the first half but late I do not think they had any.”
A 3-pointer by Amrit Dhaliwal capped a 7-0 run for the Raiders and narrowed the Manteca lead to 62-60 with 2:48 showing on the fourth-quarter clock when Tydus Verhoeven led a phenomenal Buffaloes defensive stand, getting three monster rebounds in the next two minutes and dishing an assist out to Dwight Young (10 points, three assists) for a key 3-pointer. Gino Campiotti converted a three-point play and Kyle Bolding added a free throw as the Buffaloes closed out the game on a 7-0 run.
“We bunkered down at the end on defense,” Verhoeven said. “Late in games you have to play great defense to win.
“We found the flow with our offense. We got the ball in our playmakers’ hands so they could find other guys.”
Verhoeven had limited playing time in the first half but stepped up big in the second half, scoring 12 of his 13 points, grabbing 12 of his 16 rebounds, making five of his six assists and blocking three of his four shots in the third and fourth periods.
Manteca jumped out to a 16-point third-quarter lead, starting the second half on a 14-4 run. Verhoeven had a role in 10 of those points, dishing a pair of no-look passes to Gino Campiotti and Jorge Cedano on fast breaks, getting a basket on a put-back and thrilling the crowd with two solo coast-to-coast fast breaks, one ending with a resounding dunk.
“He is so tough to guard when he is playing like that,” Lewis said of Verhoeven. “He is one of the best players in the area when he is playing like that.”
Campiotti (19 points, seven rebounds) helped get that third-quarter rally going, getting back-to-back buckets on a put-back and capping a fast break after one of the no-look-passes from Verhoeven – from half-court.
“We were kind of all over the place for a while,” Campiotti said. “We started slow and they went up, then we went up big and then back down and up again. They were a good team and they were not going to give up.
“They played really hard and we are just glad we came out on top.”
Cedano shared high-point honors with Campiotti at 19.
“My teammates were really finding me in the first half,” Cedano said. “I want to thank them for looking for me.
“But we have to learn to keep a lead through the whole game.”
Dhaliwal and Jarred Rice paced Central Catholic with 17 points each and Conor Fenton added 13.
“They are a very good basketball team,” Lewis said. “They are very well coached and they have a lot of players who are good so they are going to have that never-die attitude with a lot of guys who can score.
“We knew what they were capable of doing and we have to do a better job of preserving the lead, taking care of the ball a little more and not making stupid mistakes.”
Central Catholic 71,
Dylan Gross paced the Buffaloes with nine points.
Central Catholic 49
The Buffaloes fended off a late Raiders charge for the win.
Jordan Burciaga led Manteca with 21 points and Jacob DeJesus added 13.