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Buffs stumble in MCs Holiday Hoop Classic finale
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SALIDA — Even when it was competitive for 2 ½ quarters, Manteca appeared disjointed in running its offense against Modesto Christian in the third-round game of the 17th annual Holiday Hoop Classic on Friday.

Meanwhile, Darian Grays and the tournament-host Crusaders found their groove in the second half, rallying for 11 unanswered points to race away with a 63-48 win. It’s the second straight year that Modesto Christian (5-5) has beaten the reigning CIF State Division III champion in this high-profile event.

“For whatever reason nobody wanted to pass the ball today, nobody wanted to follow any directive, nobody wanted to cut and nobody wanted to work hard,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “We tried to draw up plays and we couldn’t execute.”

Grays finished with 24 points, and it was his 3-pointer that punctuated MC’s back-breaking run with 2:09 left in the third. Tyler Williams added 15 points and 11 rebounds, while 6-7, 230-pound center Gabe Murphy finished with 15 rebounds to go with eight points. Grays and Murphy were named to the all-tournament team.

Gino Campiotti carried Manteca (7-5) in the first half while the rest of the Buffaloes struggled from the field, scoring 14 of his team-high 18 points in the first two quarters. He also grabbed seven of his 10 rebounds off the offensive glass. Campiotti scored on a put-back to cap Manteca’s 10-2 run to start but it was a struggle for the remainder of the contest.

All-tourney selection Tydus Verhoeven accumulated 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.

It was a disappointing end to what has otherwise been an impressive two-week stretch for Manteca, which opened the Holiday Hoop Classic with wins over Central Section powers Clovis East and Immanuel. “This tournament really tests you and shows what your weaknesses are,” Lewis said. “Is this how we want to go into league? No, and we have two more tough games coming up. We’re still learning how to play together. We are definitely not where we want to be.”