Manteca coach Ryan Bono said he received varying scouting reports on first-round playoff opponent Nevada Union.
It turns out they were all spot on.
Bothered by the visiting Miners’ length in the post at the start, seventh-seeded Manteca weathered a fourth-quarter flurry of 3-pointers and held on for a 67-61 win in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III opener Tuesday at Winter Gym.
The Buffaloes (19-7) twice led by as much as 16 late in the third quarter, but No. 10 Nevada Union (15-14) made a game of it by draining six 3-pointers in the fourth. The visitors from Grass Valley closed the gap to four, 65-61, on Aubrey Looney’s 3 with 23.2 seconds remaining.
Paige Peterson knocked down two free throws 5 seconds later to seal it for Manteca.
“I got conflicting reports on them, so I didn’t really know what to expect coming in,” Bono said. “Once they started pounding it inside we knew that we had to take it away, but we were actually taking away the shooting early. We were extending out and they were able to finish inside, and so we had to pick our poison.
“Tip your hat; you knew they were going to go out swinging.”
Manteca struggled at the outset, coughing up turnovers and badly missing open jump shots as the Miners raced to a 5-0 lead.
Then Kyaira Jacobs and the rest of the Buffaloes took over. The junior point guard scored nine points in the opening period — a 3 followed by three fastbreak layups — on her way to a game-high 20 points.
Manteca closed the first half with a 12-3 run that gave it a 31-19 advantage at the break, while Nevada Union was held without a field goal over the final 3-plus minutes.
“We just wanted to fight for each other because we didn’t want the season to end,” Jacobs said. “It was a matter of settling down and keeping our focus, especially on defense.”
Jayda Jackson added 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Marissa Serrano and Peterson (seven rebounds) tallied 12 points each. Serrano — who also had six rebounds, three assists and three steals — found her touch after a scoreless first half.
“I tell my girls, if you’re not shooting well keep shooting,” Bono said. “If you’re open, you have to at least be a threat on the court. With Marissa it just takes one, and when she gets one she’ll find another one. I’m proud of the way she kept her composure, kept her confidence and kept playing. The team needed it tonight.”
Looney paced Nevada Union with 15 points and five assists and made five of her team’s 10 3s. Emerson Dunbar collected 12 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Point guard Aijah King racked up nine assists and five steals to go with her six points, but she was one of the few Miners who could play at Manteca’s pace.
“They’re really good at getting to the rim and finishing and they’re super athletic,” Nevada Union coach Jenn Krill said of Manteca. “That’s somewhere we struggle is on the perimeter, and they did a great job of attacking the rim and hitting their free throws. They’re a great team.”
Manteca travels to No. 2 Christian Brothers (21-8) of Sacramento on Thursday. The Falcons waxed Woodland 72-16 in their first-round game and were the SJS Division III runners-up last year.
“We’re not very big, so we’re going to have to figure something out because Christian Brothers goes 6-2, 6-1, 6-0,” Bono said of the CB’s tall and versatile frontcourt. “Once again, we’re going to have to worry about their size and pick our poison come Thursday.”