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Keeping it perfect
Team offense helps Manteca cruise past Lancers
Kiwi Gardner drives through T.J. Brown. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Sophomore standout Kiwi Gardner didn’t hit the 30-point mark for the Buffaloes on Friday night like he did in Manteca’s two previous games.

But with their offense firing on all cylinders, he didn’t have to.

With his 17-point night leading the way for Manteca, Gardner helped execute a fluid and extremely potent offensive attack that helped the Buffaloes – the Valley Oak League’s lone unbeaten team – cruise to a 74-30 victory over the visiting East Union Lancers at Winter Gymnasium.

Gardner teamed up early with senior big-man Nick Scheible to help the Buffaloes get off to a 24-10 first- quarter lead.

“It was a rivalry game, so we didn’t really take anything lightly this week,” said Scheible, who finished the game with 14 points. “Everything was really falling our way tonight, and we did a good job of running our plays effectively.”

After an early 8-0 run that set the tempo for the first quarter, Gardner – who scored back-to-back buckets off of steals during the run – helped spread the ball around Manteca’s balanced offense to give everyone on the floor a chance to find a shot.

While Scheible pounded away at the low post, sharpshooter Ernie Pimentel sank three shots from beyond the three-point line to widen Manteca’s growing margin.

“I thought we came out ready tonight, and we had a lot of shots falling for us,” Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion said. “We played well together, and guys fed the ball around until they had the easier shot instead of just forcing it in there.

“It’s something that worked out well for us tonight.”

T.J. Brown led all East Union scorers with 10 points.

On top of leading Manteca’s offense in scoring, Gardner also recorded four assists, three steals, and three rebounds. LaRon Bennett also had two steals.

Manteca (6-0, 17-2) remains the VOL’s lone undefeated team and in sole possession of first place as they prepare to travel to Sonora Wednesday and wrap up the first half of the season. East Union (1-5, 2-16) will take on Oakdale Wednesday at the Dalben Center. Both games tip off at 7:15 p.m.