MERCED — Finishing games has been a problem for Manteca this season.
That wasn’t the case Wednesday in its Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener at Golden Valley.
Trailing by seven at one point in the final period, the 10th-seeded Buffaloes got some big shots from Jorge Cedano, Gino Campiotti and Jordan Burciaga to race away for a 68-65 victory.
“We have confidence in our guys; they’ve been here and done that,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “We can turn it on when our backs are against the wall, and we’ve done that three games in a row now. When guys want to step up we can be a pretty good team.”
Cedano stepped up in a big way, eclipsing the 20-point mark for a second straight game and leading all scorers with 26 while draining four 3-pointers.
Campiotti (13 points) pushed the Buffaloes (13-15) ahead for good, 64-63, with about a minute to go. Cedano then made an acrobatic floater from the baseline on their next possession. A layup from Devon Martinez gave No. 7 Golden Valley (18-10) hope with 5 seconds remaining, but Cedano closed it out with two free throws.
Matthew Ender contributed 12 points for Manteca, and Burciaga registered six of his nine points in the fourth quarter.
Cyrus Allen led the Cougars with 21 points. Martinez added 13, and Elrell Bowers ended with 12.
It was a game of momentum swings with Manteca taking a nine-point lead in the second quarter before Golden Valley closed in 36-35 by halftime. The Buffs were outscored 15-9 in the third quarter.
“We had opportunities late in the first half to put them away but made some mental mistakes,” Lewis said. “We went into halftime kind of reeling and came back out super flat. In the fourth quarter we started pushing tempo a little bit and it got us going.”
The win sets Manteca up with a Friday night rematch against second-seeded Beyer (18-10), which drubbed a short-handed Buffalo squad 84-69 on Dec. 6. Manteca was without Cedano, Campiotti and Ender, who were still playing football.
“We’re excited,” Lewis said. “We lost to 15 against them without our football guys. They are a really good team and we have a lot of respect for them. It should be a fun rematch.”
Ripon Christian 79,
RIPON — The surging Knights (17-9), winners of six out of their last seven, continued their late-season roll in their first postseason contest Wednesday.
Seeded second, Ripon Christian blew open a 38-11 halftime lead after erupting for 25 points in the second period. Jadon Vander Molen had the hot hand, pouring in a game-high 18 points before getting replaced midway through the third quarter. Cade Alger and Andrew Vander Weide pitched in 12 and 10 points, respectively.
No. 7 Foresthill (17-12) was led by Hunter Williams’ 11 points and Skyler Tuttle’s 10.
The Knights play host to No. 3 Faith Christian (20-7) on Friday. The winner advances to the SJS finals and earns a berth to the CIF NorCal Regionals.