Anand Hundal worked hard over the summer, both on and off the court, and it showed Friday night in Manteca’s 67-49 Valley Oak League victory over visiting defending league and Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion Sierra.
The 6-foot-9 Buffaloes senior led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds. A bulk of those points were scored by himdriving to the middle when the baseline was cut off.
“Over the summer I learned a lot from Hakeem Olajuwon videos,” Hundal said. “Those moves when they were on the baseline were from him right there.
“I have been more controlled than last year and I know my body more. I am a little more confident.”
With Hundal, 6-9 Kenny Wooten and 6-8 Tydus Verhoeven dominating the paint for Manteca (2-0 VOL, 13-2), Dwight Young took over the perimeter duties. Young and the Timberwolves’ Daniel Wyatt traded baskets at the end of the third quarter – Young (18 points) with a pair of 3-pointers and Wyatt with a field goal and a 3-pointer – to keep the Buffaloes ahead at 42-36 after a deadlocked halftime score of 25-25.
In the final period Sierra (1-1, 10-4) came within 44-40 on a pair of Alex Farfan free throws when Manteca closed out the game on a 23-9 run keyed by a Young 3-pointer and him going 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.
“We came out confident in the second half,” Young said. “We just wanted to win.
“I am the point guard, so I try to get everyone involved and that happened in the second half. My teammates were finding me for 3-pointers and I was knocking them down.”
Wooten brought the crowd to its feet with multiple resounding dunks and four intimidating blocks, finishing with 13 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.
“This felt great,” Wooten said of his first big cross-town VOL game. “It was great competition. I have been looking forward to this since last year.
“In the second half we got to business, came out and executed and played good ‘D’ and we ended up with the ‘W.’”
What ended as a yawner did not start that way. Four first-quarter 3-pointers by the Timberwolves – two by Wyatt (17 points), one by Jess Spivey (10 points, five rebounds) and one by Noah Ault – gave Sierra a16-11 lead after the opening period.
“They made some tough shots in the first quarter,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “You have to tip your hat.
“I feel like our defense adjusted in the second half. We guarded the 3-point line a little better and we started executing much better on offense.”
Young’s free-throw shooting prowess is nothing new.
“He is nails,” Lewis said of Young. “He was 10 for 10 from the free-throw line against Freedom and 11 for 12 against El Camino. He can shoot free throws.
“We tried to run a couple of plays for him – one after a timeout – and he knocked them down.”
With the Buffaloes dominating on defense and outrebounding Sierra 42-21, the Timberwolves did well to keep the game as close as they did for as long as they did.
“It was close until midway through the fourth quarter,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “You have to give Manteca a lot of credit. I thought we had a good game plan and a good purpose about us and I am proud of our effort.
“But we shot the ball terrible. We needed to make more outside shots, and against a team like that you have to shoot the ball well and we did not. They got the rebounds when they needed to and No. 32 (Hundal) was able to score in the paint and No. 1 (Young) hit some big shots for them.”
Verhoeven finished with seven points, six rebounds, four assists and a block. Ogun Delaney had 10 points for the Timberwolves and Farfan nine.