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Holding the line
Spartans late rally not enough
Manteca ‘s Ryan Culpepper goes for the block during Manteca’s VOL win over Lathrop Wednesday. - photo by HIME ROMERO
The Manteca High boys varsity basketball squad had several advantages over Lathrop on Wednesday.

 “We had a big edge in size,” said Buffaloes coach Dave Asuncion after his team’s 63-49 Valley Oak League victory at Winter Gymnasium.

Spartans coach J.J. Ramirez added, “The bottom line is that (Manteca) has a lot more experience (than Lathrop).”

His team came in with a defensive plan of smothering Buffaloes’ 6-foot-5 senior forward E.J. Godfrey, who was coming off a 37-game effort at Weston Ranch.

He’s averaging 19.5 points per game.

“We didn’t take in consideration of him hitting those ‘3s,’” Ramirez said.

Godfrey scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. Included were four treys along with his 8-of-10 shooting from the field.

“He was feeling it early on,” said Asuncion, who would prefer to keep it under wraps that his top scorer is more than just a post player.

Manteca (2-1, 5-9) jumped out to an early lead. Ben Odell opened up the scoring with a quick two and 3 pointer.

Godfrey suddenly warmed up from the outside, canning a pair of treys to boost the Buffaloes’ early advantage, 16-5.

Godfrey’s fourth trey early in the second period gave Manteca a 26-7 lead. Odell and Matt Mueller joined in, adding 3s of their own to make it 36-11.

The Buffaloes also controlled the boards. They outrebounded Lathrop (0-3, 1-10), 34-16.

Mueller led the way with seven boards. Odell and Ryan Culpepper both had five.

Down 40-14 at the intermission, the Spartans had a better showing in the second half.

Andrew Kovanis opened the third with a trey. Ricky Chavez chipped in with a 3 while Eric Davis completed a three-point play.

Marcus Conley picked up the scoring slack in the fourth, hitting a pair of treys. His free throws coupled with the ones by Alex Pineda and Chavez helped the Spartans whittle Manteca’s once 28-point lead down 14.