LATHROP – A game that started as a laugher Tuesday turned into a nail-biter as visiting Manteca held on for a 58-51 win over Lathrop to open the Valley Oak League boys basketball campaign.
Behind nine Kenny Wooten points, the Buffaloes (1-0 VOL, 11-2) jumped out to a 17-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. That lead held until the fourth quarter when the Spartans closed within four points late but could not come any closer.
“That start is how we wanted it to be,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “But that’s how we wanted the finish to be, too.
“To be up 17-1 is the statement we wanted to make, but we let them hang around, hang around and then got in a little foul trouble. We relaxed on defense and we have to step up better.”
With 1:30 left in the game a basket by Junior Ballard (18 points, five rebounds) closed the gap to 50-46.
“We dug ourselves in a big hole to start,” Spartans coach Nate McGrath said. “They came out gun shy and timid and missed a lot of shots and a lot of opportunities.
“But I am really proud of how they fought back and did not give up. I wanted this to be a chaotic track meet and they did it for three quarters and they did it fairly well.
Lathrop (0-1, 7-7) missed seven free throws down the stretch.
“There were some missed opportunities in the end,” McGrath said. “Some missed free throws and the ball didn’t bounce our way a couple of times but to be down 17-1 and then to bring it down to four points at one point was something to be proud of.
Dwight Young (10 points) came up with a big 3-pointers for the Buffaloes, hitting one in each of the final two quarters.
“I started off in foul trouble so I really didn’t play that much in the first half,” Young said. “When I came back in and I tried to help with the flow of the game so we could win it.”
Wooten had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds along with six blocks.
“We started off real well,” Wooten said. “We had a nice tempo and we were pushing the ball up and getting the easy baskets.
“We slowed down a little bit but we ended up getting the win.”
The Spartans’ Michael Mills (five assists) was the third player to earn high-point honors with 18. Manteca’s Anand Hundal had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Manteca 49, Lathrop 40
Gino Campiotti made a steal and went coast-to-coast in the closing seconds to slam the door on any comeback hopes for the Spartans.
Campiotti led all scorers with 18 points and Buffaloes teammate Antwann Taylor added 13.
Michael Ballard had nine points for Lathrop and Ramon Khweiss chipped in eight.
Lathrop 64, Manteca 49
Isaiah Victor flirted with a double-double and led the Spartans (1-0, 6-4) with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Paul Kiggins added nine points and two steals for Lathrop.