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Hundal hobbled; listed as probable
BBK -- Division III semi graphic 3-3
Joshua Patton (center) and Sierra take on Vanden in the first of two Division III semifinal games tonight at Cosumnes River College in Elk Grove. The nightcap will feature two Valley Oak League rivals, Marcus Montano (left) and Manteca versus Jazz Swanson (right) and Weston Ranch. - photo by Curt Murray

The big man has tried cold compressions, massages, laser treatments and muscle stimulation. 

Anything to get his achy right leg healthy again.

Manteca center Anand Hundal suffered deep bruising to his shin and calf area after being kicked inadvertently during Friday’s 64-58 victory over Rio Americano.

Coach Brett Lewis said the 6-foot, 8-inch center, a leading candidate for The Bulletin’s All-Area MVP award, is “probable” for tonight’s Division III semifinal tilt with ninth-seeded Weston Ranch.

“We’re preparing like we won’t have him,” Lewis said, “and if we can get anything from him, that will be good.”

Hundal left Friday’s game for about a five-minute stretch in the second half, opening the door for Rio Americano’s last-ditch run. Hobbling and in pain, Hundal returned to finish the game, providing a presence in the middle of Manteca’s press break.

He visited with a physical therapist, who ruled out a bone break, Lewis said. He spent the rest of the weekend trying to make the pain go away, exhausting all forms of treatment. 

On Monday, Hundal, one of the state’s premier shot blockers, was still walking with a slight limp.

“We’ve been doing treatment all weekend. Ice, cold laser to help revive the cells, muscle stimulator, cold compressions — we’ve been doing it all,” Lewis said. “He’s got a little limp, but he’s getting better. We hope with the stuff we do today, he’ll be better tomorrow.”

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Buffaloes, making their first appearance in a Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal since winning the D-II tournament in 1987.

No. 5 Manteca takes on Valley Oak League rival Weston Ranch at Cosumnes River College at 7:30 p.m. The two teams met twice during league with the Buffaloes cruising to victory each time behind the play of Hundal.

He tallied a career-high 37 points to go along with 13 rebounds and two blocked shots in a 77-62 win on Feb. 6. The Cougars, who don’t start a player taller than 6-3, were no match for the big man’s ever-evolving offensive game.

“We had to come out and prove a point that we were better than them,” Hundal said famously after the game.

How about now?

Lewis realizes the challenge of beating a team three times, especially one coming off impressive road victories at No. 8 Central Valley and No. 1 Christian Brothers, is hard enough with a full complement of players.

Without Hundal, though, those odds become even longer for the Buffs.

“These guys will be ready to play. You don’t want to lose to a league rival,” Lewis said. “But it’s going to level the playing field. I truly believe he’s the best big man in the area and it’s shown. His numbers have been so consistent all season. He’s huge for us.

“We’ve got a lot of players around him, but he’s proven to be one of the top players in the area.”

If Hundal can’t play or is limited, Lewis may use another guard to better match-up with the Cougars’ four-guard system, or increase the minutes of forward Adrian Contreras, who had six points and seven rounds on Friday.

Either way, Lewis is confident his battle-tested team can answer the call. 

Manteca has overcome the loss of Kenny Wooten, a transfer who hasn’t been cleared to the play in games by the CIF, various illnesses and injuries, and a difficult schedule to clinch a NorCal berth and position itself one game away from the final.

“These guys have battled through adversity. We did think we’d have (Kenny Wooten) and that was a blow, but we never made it an excuse,” Lewis said. “There have been a lot of things. We’ve had guys quit. We’ve battled sickness. We’ve been down 13 in the first round, and were down at times on Friday. It seems like there’s been adversity every day, but they’ve battled … and we’ll do it again tomorrow.”