Despite playing the fourth quarter with vision in only one eye after a collision at the end of the third, Manteca’s Tydus Verhoeven came within an assist of a quadruple-double to lead the Buffaloes to a 70-58 Valley Oak League road win over Sierra.
The win clinched the outright VOL championship for Manteca.
“It was kind of difficult,” Verhoeven said of playing with the injured eye. “But they were making a little bit of a run there in the fourth quarter so I had to go back in so we could close the door on them and we did.
“It felt good to be the outright VOL champs, but we still have two regular-season games to go and we still have playoffs, so we want to finish strong. That is what we are focused on right now.”
Behind the multi-pronged attack of Verhoeven (15 points, 17 rebounds, 11 blocks and nine assists), Manteca (12-0 VOL, 20-5 overall) took what appeared to be a commanding 21-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Timberwolves (4-8, 13-11) did not go away quietly, keeping within striking range and then closing to within four points twice in the fourth quarter before the Buffaloes scored 14 points in the final three minutes to pull away for the win.
“It’s never going to be easy here,” Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis said. “They are well-coached and they play hard. It was a physical game, it was a great cross-town rivalry game.
“This feels good, but we still have two more to play and we have to keep it rolling. We have a lot of areas we need to get better in.”
Eight of those final 14 Manteca points came from the free-throw line, and part of the surge came via back-to-back steals by Matthew Ender (12 points). .
“I thought in the first half we gave them way too many layups,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “We just couldn’t get back on defense.
“I like the way we fought. I think we cut the lead to four points a couple of times and then we continued to shoot ourselves in the foot. We couldn’t throw the ball inbounds – we had two quick turnovers – and then we got two lane violations in a row. Hats off to Manteca. They are a very good team and congratulations to them and we go back to work tomorrow.”
As he has all year, Dwight Young was lights-out from the free-throw line for the Buffaloes down the stretch, going 8 for 8 from the charity stripe in the second half, scoring 19 points on the night behind three 3-pointers.
“I just wanted to make those free throws and help my team win,” Young said. “It was a really intense game. We knew they were going to come out hard knowing that this was going to be the league clinch and we wanted to come out tough to and try to win the game which we did.
“We executed well at the end.”
Gino Campiotti (six rebounds) paced the Buffaloes with 22 points.
“They are a good team and we are playing at their house,” Campiotti said. “They took advantage of every chance they could possibly get and it was our goal throughout the game to match their intensity and take it a step ahead and I think we did a good job of that, especially late.
“Tydus got hurt for a while and that kind of hurt us but we never gave up giving 100 percent effort.”
Sierra’s Jaime Ochoa led all scorers with 23 points behind six 3-pointers and teammate Victor Elijah had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Sierra 50, Manteca 45
The Timberwolves withstood a 21-point Buffaloes fourth quarter to hold on for the win.
Sierra’s John Elijah led all scorers with 16 points and teammate Carl Rice added 15.
Dylan Gross led Manteca with 12 points.
Manteca 65, Sierra 58
The Buffaloes placed four players in double figures.
Manteca’s Jordan Burciaga led all scorers with 18 points followed by Spencer Brisco with 14 points, Jacob DeJesus with 12 and Trabron Russell with 10.
DeShon Thomas paced the Timberwolves with 14 points. Kendrick Currey added 12 points and David Kakala 10.