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Hasal clutches up again for Lady Buffs
Manteca Highs Karleasha Thompson applies defensive pressure for the length of the court during first half action of the Buffaloes 55-52 win over Sonora.

Mia Ramirez contributed in every way imaginable for the Manteca Buffaloes, but even her huge offensive night needed the late accompaniment of a clutch 3-pointer from Jessica Hasal with 1:25 remaining in Friday’s 55-52 win over Sonora.

Both Valley Oak League teams held hopes for a victory until Manteca hauled in the final inbounds pass with a tic on the clock. Manteca jumped to a 21-10 first quarter lead, but strong second and third quarters from Sonora had the teams separated by two points heading into the fourth.

The Buffaloes (8-2, 20-3 overall) held a five-point lead with just under three minutes to play. The Hasal 3-pointer, followed by a free throw make and a Karleasha Thompson (10 points) layup gave Manteca enough to fend off Sonora’s comeback attempt.

“We knew that we had to pick up a spark on the defensive end,” Manteca head coach Andrea Hiatt said. “It came down to defense. That is what we’ve done all year, we’ve relied on our defense and we kind of got away from that.

“We had a timeout at the end, and that’s what we talked about; picking it up on defense.”

The defense directly attributed to four of the Buffaloes’ final eight points. Sonora took advantage of every edge it had over Manteca in the paint. Getting a team-high 18-point performance from Aneka Pisula. Pisula would score Sonora’s final bucket, but the Hasal 3-pointer proved to be the big shot of the game.

“Aneka played outstanding,” Sonora head coach Amy Santos said. “It’s stuff we’ve been working on and she really delivered tonight. The difference was that 3-pointer at the end from No. 12, she did it at the end of their last game — she’s money.

“It doesn’t matter what time of the game, or what the score is, she’ll hit it.”

Hasal’s late-game heroics were the perfect complement to Ramirez’ game-high 19 point outing. There was little question as to who would be carrying the load for Manteca from the opening tip. Ramirez scored in each of the four quarters, including a three-point play followed by a steal and layup.

“I don’t have words for her,” Hiatt said of her senior captain. “Every player wishes they had a Mia Ramirez on their team. We don’t rely on her for a lot of offense, but tonight she was getting out running and scoring baskets.

“When you hustle and get down the court Mikayla (Hasal) is going to get you the ball.”