SALIDA — Manteca stepped up its defense in the second half Wednesday against Immanuel in the winners-bracket quarterfinals of the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic.
As a result, Manteca High (7-3) came away with a 55-52 victory.
Next up is Salesian, which destroyed Freedom in the earlier game, 72-28. Both teams will square off today at 7:30 p.m. at Modesto Christian.
“They’re a very, very good team,” Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis said of Salesian. “They’re the best team in this tournament.”
His team overcame some earlier woes to mount a fourth-quarter comeback.
Tyler Verhoeven and Gino Campiotti were relentless on the boards, with the latter getting all five of his rebounds in the second half. Verhoeven finished with 22 points, eight boards and four blocks.
Campiotti added 13 points.
The Eagles (6-4) surged ahead midway of the first quarter with a 9-2 run behind the play of Darrin Person Jr., who also finished with 22. The 6-foot-6 senior connected on a turnaround, giving his team its biggest lead midway in the second, 26-16.
Immanuel of Reedley also featured Nate Kendricks and Carson Verhoeven, who is a 6-4 sophomore and the cousin of Tydus Verhoeven.
Kendricks chipped in with 17 points.
Manteca trailed at the half, 29-20.
“We were playing good defense. We just needed to play better in the second half,” Lewis said.
Campiotti, Verhoeven, Jorge Cedano, Matt Ender and Kyle Rachels delivered with aggressive efforts on both ends of the court. At times, they crashed the boards for second-chance points.
Dwight Young, who connected on a pair of 3s earlier in the game, was guarded tightly by Immanuel. He passed up a shot from the arc for a drive to the basket midway in the fourth, pulling the Buffaloes to within a point, 46-45.
Young finished with 10 points.
Manteca finally went ahead at 3:27 mark of the fourth when Cedano hit Campiotti inside for a quick basket, 49-48.
The Eagles came right back with Person driving baseline for the two-handed dunk.
Manteca finally went ahead for good at 1:48 left in the game as Verhoeven, driving to the basket, was fouled on a put-back shot.
He hit both free throws to give his team a 51-50.
Campiotti followed that up seconds later by sinking his two free throws, 53-50.
Person answered back with a hoop to make it a one-point game. Verhoeven did likewise for the Buffaloes, maintaining that three-point cushion.
Immanuel had two tries at tying the game in the closing seconds, missing both chances.
“We made the big stops when we needed it,” Lewis said.