TRACY — Manteca’s regular-season finale against East Union just got bigger for the Buffaloes, who travelled to Kimball on Thursday and left from opening tip to final buzzer in a 51-42 Valley Oak League win.
Manteca (8-2 VOL, 18-6 overall) knocked Kimball (9-2, 21-6) out of a first-place tie with East Union, which holds a one-game lead. If the Buffaloes beat their rival next Thursday, Feb. 13, that could cement a tri-championship, provided both teams win their games Tuesday.
Manteca led 9-7 late in the first quarter and went on a 9-0 run into the second period, dominating the game most of the rest of the way.
“We watched film Wednesday and we talked about energy play and hustle plays against good teams like Kimball,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “Especially with this being their senior night, we knew we were going have to match their energy with all the festivities going on. I was really proud of our girls with the way they came out and did the little things with the hustle plays and the 50-50 balls and rebounding. That kind of set the tone.
“In the second quarter we got a little lax and had some careless turnovers which kept them in the game. We talked about that at halftime and I think we did a pretty good job in the second half matching their intensity.”
The Jaguars made a run in the fourth quarter, entering the period trailing 42-28 and then closing to 48-42 with 2:28 left in the game behind a pair of 3-pointers by Isabella Lacap (11 points).
The Buffaloes’ Paige Peterson (six points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, two steals, assist) saw to it that Kimball would not score again, grabbing four rebounds down the stretch.
“I usually don’t rebound a lot,” Peterson said. “Today, something just came over me and I knew I couldn’t let them have any second chances.”
Manteca’s Jayda Jackson earned high-point honors, scoring 17 points with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
“We knew what we had to do,” Jackson said. “We knew we didn’t want to fall behind because there is always that chance we won’t be able to come back.
“Last time we played them the ball didn’t fall our way so we knew we had to come out strong and not let up.”
Giana Riley led Kimball with 12 points.
“That’s just the way the ball bounces,” Jaguars coach Mike Granillo said. “Manteca came out and jumped us early and they wanted it more than we did.
“Manteca was the better team tonight and we have one game left. We will see where the ball bounces.”
On Tuesday, the Buffaloes host Weston Ranch and East Union hosts Central Catholic. Manteca welcomes the Lancers next Thursday. All games are slated to tip off at 7 p.m.
Manteca 57, Kimball 53
The Buffaloes trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half before Leilani Rios gave them a two-point lead they would not relinquish on a pair of free throws with 1:14 left in the game.
Camrenne Genilla led Manteca with an impressive 29 points and 24 rebounds. Jill Sanchez added 10 points and Rios chipped on nine points with 16 rebounds.