TRACY — Manteca came out of the gates sluggish Wednesday night and paid for it dearly.
Reigning Valley Oak League champion Kimball scored the first 11 points of the game, and the Buffaloes never quite recovered in the battle for first place won by the host Jaguars, 63-56.
“We didn’t play our style of game early,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “We were walking the ball up and they out-hustled us early. I told the girls at halftime that we didn’t match their intensity and they out-worked us, and some of their players hit some big shots.
“Coming into this game I told them that they play just like we do. That first quarter we just came out nonchalant. We started turning it up but once you give a good team — the leader of the pack right now —the confidence and momentum it’s hard to take back. Tonight, Kimball took it to us.”
Kimball (5-0 VOL, 15-3 overall) dominated under the glass, outrebounding the Buffaloes (4-1, 13-7) 39-24. With seven freshmen and sophomores on his team, Jaguars coach Mike Granillo attributes the youth of his team with its ability to attack relentlessly.
“We have a young group of girls,” Granillo said. “We are able to put in and rotate 10 girls. That’s what makes it exciting. We always say that it is the responsibility of the next person to step things up.
“Basketball is a game of runs, Manteca went on one in the second half and then we went on one so it’s like a roller coaster. Manteca has done a great job so my hat’s off to them.”
Kyaira Jacobs (four rebounds, two assists, three steals) spearheaded a big run for the Buffaloes in the third quarter when she scored 12 of her team-high 15 points, bringing Manteca from a 40-30 deficit midway through the period to trailing by just 44-42 at the end of the quarter. Jaslyn Woods (four rebounds, three steals, assist) had five of her 12 points in the quarter for the Buffaloes.
Kimball put the game away with a 11-4 run to start the fourth quarter.
Marissa Serrano (two rebounds, two assists, steal, block) added 11 points for Manteca and Jayda Jackson (seven rebounds, assist) 10.
The Jaguars’ Alicia Leonardo and Isabelle Lacap shared game high-point honors with Jacobs at 15. Giana Riley added 13 points for Kimball.
Manteca 37, Kimball 20
Giovanna Jiminez poured in 18 points for the Buffaloes.
Manteca 42, Kimball 11
Ariana Lowry and Leilani Rios scored eight points apiece for the Buffaloes.