Manteca scored the final 13 points of the game Friday night to turn a two-point thriller into a comfortable 62-47 Valley Oak League boys basketball victory over host East Union in a highly- charged Dalben Center.
“I’d like to say it was our defense at the end that made the difference but I don’t know,” Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis said. “We picked up the pressure a little bit and maybe they got a little fatigued not getting up high enough on the jumpers or getting enough arc on their shots – we had a couple of big blocks at the end.
“Offensively we looked a lot better in that last quarter, too. That last run was huge.”
Eric Flores gave the Lancers (3-6 VOL, 11-9 overall) their last lead at 44-43 with 6:08 left in the game on a 3-pointer. Seconds later Kenny Wooten (12 rebounds, six points, two blocks, two steals) hit a pair of free throws that put Manteca (7-2, 18-4) ahead for good.
With 3:20 remaining Flores hit another 3-pointer to come within 49-47, but then Buffaloes stepped up their defense and exploded for their game-ending 13-0 run.
During that run Wooten and Anand Hundal had two blocks apiece while Angel Perez and Tydus Verhoeven (11 points, four rebounds, three blocks) each had one block. Also in that spurt Hundal had three rebounds and Wooten two while the Lancers had none.
“We played defense the whole second half,” Wooten said. “We were blocking shots, executing and pushing the ball. That’s what got us the separation.”
Hundal led all scorers with 25 points and had a double-double with 12 rebounds along with three blocks. He scored nine points in the first quarter.
“This was a cross-town rivalry game,” Hundal said. “They came out with their best game – we know that all teams are going to give us their best games – so we had to battle through it.
“My teammates did a good job of finding me. They had trust in me and I had trust in myself and we took over at the end.”
Part of that final Manteca blitz was an NBA-range 3-pointer by Dwight Young (15 points) who had three 3-pointers and was 4 for 4 from the free throw line down the stretch.
“I just play my game and hit big shots,” Young said. “I have to thank my teammates because they did a good job of getting me the ball.”
One thing hindering the Lancers in the second half was the 15 fouls they were whistled for to just two for the Buffaloes.
“The foul disparity worked against us big,” East Union coach Ryan Tarr said. “Because every time we fouled they went to the line and that kind of slowed the pace down. But there is nothing you can do about that, you just have to fight through it. We stopped making shots at the end of the game. We made shots for the first 28 minutes and kind of dried up at the end.
“We did a good job of keeping them away from the basket in the first half and we were able to rebound but in the second half we couldn’t rebound because they got the ball too far down on the block. We talked about trying to keep them away from the basket but their size kind of wore us down and their length.”
Eric Flores hit six from behind the arc for the Lancers and finished with 22 points. He had five steals – four in the first half – and six rebounds – five in the second half.
“Eric was sensational on both ends,” Tarr said of Flores. “He kept us in it offensively and defensively.
“We just played very, very hard tonight.”
Gyse Hulsebosch added 14 points for East Union.