Manteca High’s girls basketball team is in a little bit of a funk.
Scary thought for a squad that improved to 7-0 with a 63-34 trouncing of West High Monday at Winter Gym.
“I think we can be better,” said junior forward Jasmine Odell, who ignited the Buffaloes on both ends of the court with 16 points, five rebounds and eight steals. “I think we’re good, but we still have to improve on a lot of things.”
Manteca has struggled offensively of late, though pressure defense remains its bread and butter. The Buffs forced 38 turnovers Monday but there were a few sketchy moments that have Coach Andrea Hiatt concerned.
They established a 26-8 lead midway through the second quarter before going on a 3-minute, 29-second scoring drought. Plagued by point-blank misses and their own giveaways, the Buffaloes allowed the Wolf Pack (4-5) to get back into the game with 10 unanswered points.
Karleasha Thompson’s jumper from the wing snapped Manteca out of the rut with 1:17 to go in the half. Manteca led 32-20 at halftime with West going into the break with some momentum.
“Too many missed layups — easy buckets,” Hiatt said. “We’re getting the steals, we’re forcing them into making bad passes, we’re executing, but we we’d get out on the run and not hit the shots we’re supposed to make. That’s what’s frustrating.”
Manteca iced it early in the fourth with a 13-0 onslaught highlighted by two steal-and-layup plays from Odell in a 15-second span. The Buffaloes were scoreless for the final 4:06 after the starters were replaced.
While Odell was instrumental in finishing off West, point guard Mikayla Hasal gave Manteca the early boost with 16 points and six steals in the first half. She ended up with 20 points and 11 steals.
Hasal came up big with tone-setting defensive guard Mia Ramirez out and Thompson (six points, three steals) having a rare off night. Ramirez was named MVP of the Ceres Tournament last Saturday and attended a funeral Monday.
“Mia is our spark,” Hiatt said. “She doesn’t always score a lot of points, but she’s in on every single play. Defensively she’s irreplaceable.”
Manteca is used to being shorthanded at this point, as it has yet to have its entire regular rotation available. Also out Monday was reserve Jessica Reeder.
“We’re a little battered right now, but the show must go on,” Hiatt said. “We’re off to a good start but we know there’s a long way to go.”
Manteca 56, West 32
McKenna Balmut led the Buffaloes (5-4) with 14 points, and Abbie Behler added 11. Beth Aschenbrenner contributed eight.