Down by 13 early in the fourth quarter, No. 4 Manteca exploded on an 11-1 run to draw within three with 1:40 left in the game, but that was as close as the Buffaloes would come in a 52-46 loss to No. 5 Nevada Union of Grass Valley in second-round Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff action at Winter Gym.
“They made it tough for us inside,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “In the first half we blew a lot of layups and in the second half they had a ton of blocks. Our goal was to attack the rim and make layups or get fouled and in the first half we were not making layups and we were not making free throws.
“Their No. 5 (Meadow Aragon) is a solid player. I thought we did a good job on her in the first half but in the second half she hit some clutch shots for them.”
“The Buffaloes (20-9) led 11-5 after the first quarter when the Miners (20-10) switched from a zone to a man-to-man. Nevada Union opened the second period on an 8-1 run to take the lead and never trailed again.
“Normally our zone does pretty good for us early,” Miners coach Jenn Krill said. “But it wasn’t working so well tonight. They were beating it pretty easy and when we switched it to man that seemed to turn it around for us.”
Aragon led all scorers with 22 points behind four 3-pointers and she dominated in the paint, blocking shots with impunity and controlling the boards.
“My big No. 5 (Aragon) is young for a senior but she got a ride to Western Oregon and she has earned every penny of it, let me tell you. She can bomb 3s and she can drive inside. She’s the real deal.”
Held to two points in the first half, Manteca’s Jayda Jackson scored eight of her 12 points in the third period when the Buffaloes tied the game three times but never took the lead.
Sophomore Kyaira Jacobs leads the youth movement for Manteca and led the Buffaloes with 16 points. Manteca returns its first six players next season as they look to defend their Valley Oak League co-championship.
“This year has been a great learning experience for our girls,” Bono said. “They came together.
“Obviously we are disappointed in the outcome but only one team wins at the end of the year. We’re excited because this squad will come back next year fired up and ready to compete again.”