Having battled back from a 21-point deficit to visiting Lathrop and leading by one with 35 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Manteca’s Jessica Hasal penetrated to the key and then dished out to Allison Rachels on the perimeter. Rachels threw up a 3-pointer and by the time it bounced off the glass and through the net she was picking herself up off the floor with the Buffaloes on the way to a thrilling 54-49 Valley Oak League girls basketball victory at Winter Gymnasium.
“I knew we needed a bucket,” Rachels said. “I just threw it up and it went in and I didn’t think it was going to.”
Hasal had the final points of the first and second quarters with buzzer-beating 3-pointers and started the scoring in the second half with a three-point play. Hasal led Manteca (4-5 VOL, 7-15 overall) with 19 points.
“I definitely shoot better under pressure,” Hasal said of her two buzzer-beating 3-pointers. “At times I didn’t shoot well during the game. I had confidence in Ali (Rachels) and I knew once it left my hands that she would hit that 3-pointer.
“We definitely started off slow, but once we got into our groove everyone contributed.”
Everyone may have contributed for the Buffaloes, but Hasal scored in every quarter, the only Manteca player to do so.
“Jessica Hasal has been our one consistent player all year,” Manteca coach Cody Norman said. “Other girls have stepped up in other games. Fechi (Nkwocha) stepped up tonight and played good defense and Ali (Rachels) has been really good offensively and knocked down that big 3-pointer.
“Jessica has been our mainstay but other girls are kind of coming up and filling holes when needed. We are making little improvements as a team.”
Abigail Behler added 11 points for the Buffaloes.
The Spartans (2-7, 6-15) came out on fire, starting the game on a 12-1 run and going ahead 31-10 late in the first half before Hasal nailed one of her buzzer beaters, this one from one-third court.
With only two turnovers in the first quarter, Lathrop finished the first half with eight and had 20 on the night.
“We had it well in hand and let it slip away,” Spartans coach Ed Fang said. “There were a lot of unforced turnovers for us and missed opportunities.
“We are playing better but there are still little things that we can work on.”
Lathrop’s Loreal Taylor scored 13 points in the first quarter and led all scorers with 28. Teammate Lauren Collins added 14 points.
Manteca 50, Lathrop 27
The Spartans fell behind 13-1 in the first quarter and never recovered.
Leah Manuleleua led all scorers with 16 points and a balanced Buffaloes attack that saw all Manteca players score. Cierra Jones scored 10 points for Lathrop.
Manteca 45, Lathrop 38
J.J. Santos hit three 3-pointers as part of a 21-point Buffaloes fourth quarter and come-from-behind win for Manteca which tied the Buffaloes for first place in the VOL with the Spartans.
Manteca’s Lejla Pepic led all scorers with 16 points with Santos posting a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Malia Parangan flirted with a double-double for the Buffaloes with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Gurueen Bal had 15 points for the Spartans and Danya Phillips 12.