STOCKTON — Anand Hundal narrowly missed a triple-double for a second game in a row, but on Thursday it was Manteca’s guards who stood tallest in a 70-59 win at Weston Ranch.
“Big man has been getting a lot of attention lately so we knew other guys needed to step up and hit big shots,” Marcus Montano said.
He was among the “other guys” who stepped outside the shadow cast by the 6-foot-8 Hundal. Three Manteca guards finished in double figures and Montano led the way with 16 points, nine of them scored in the Buffaloes’ decisive 19-5 flurry that ended the game.
Backcourt mate Angel Perez added 12 points and seven rebounds, and Tydus Verhoeven had 12 points and eight boards despite foul trouble. Manteca (2-0 Valley Oak League, 10-4 overall) made all five of its 3-pointers in the second half, two each coming from Frankie Lopez and Montano.
Verhoeven, a smooth 6-7 guard, helped put the game away with an impressive left-handed finish after spinning away from the Weston Ranch defense off dribble penetration. Montano later converted on a baseline drive for the game’s first double-digit lead at 67-57 with 31 seconds remaining.
Manteca outscored Weston Ranch 24-11 in the fourth, but it was a high-paced, back-and-forth affair for three quarters. It was also a big statement made by the Buffs, who were tasked with keeping up with the speedy, guard-oriented Cougars (1-1, 8-6). Despite the frenetic pace, the two teams combined for just 18 turnovers.
Weston Ranch’s Fred Lavender led all scorers with 21 points. Jaelen Ragsdale and Jazz Swanson contributed 14 and 13, respectively.
“We’ve questioned our guard play at times,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “We’ve challenged our guys to step up and get better. Going into this game I think everybody knew (Weston Ranch) had the better guards by far and it was a test for us. I think we came through and hopefully we can build on it.”
Hundal, of course, made his presence felt. He registered 16 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks two days after producing 21, eight and nine in Manteca’s league-opening win at Lathrop.
Hundal racked up five of his blocks in the third quarter, making the Cougars’ quick-slashing guards think twice about challenging one of the state’s most dominant shot swatters for the rest of the game.
“He did a fantastic job,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said. “We don’t have a post presence. Our post presence is driving to the lane.
“Doesn’t help when we’re not getting to the foul line,” he added. “Our offense is based on that. We don’t win like that. That’s not us.”
Weston Ranch settled for long-range jumpers down the stretch and was 1 for 2 on free throws in the second half and 4 for 6 overall. It’s out of character for a team accustomed to attempting 20-plus shots from the foul line.
Weston Ranch 54,
Chedrick Ordonez splashed down three 3-pointers in the first quarter and ended with a game-high 19 points as the Cougars held on for the victory.
Jose Garcia scored 15 points for Manteca, and Matthew Ender had 14.
Weston Ranch 42
Antwann Taylor and Derek Range each poured in 10 points, and Richon Nash dished out six assists to lead a balanced effort for the Buffaloes (2-0, 10-2).