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Manteca falls short of upset against Kimball
GBSK--Kimball-Manteca pic 1
Mantecas Jayda Jackson attacks the paint against Isabelle Lacap and visiting Kimball on Thursday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Manteca did not get the benefit of homecourt advantage in its 66-55 loss to Kimball on Thursday.

An unlucky bounce off the rim halted a run of nine unanswered points for the Buffaloes in the fourth quarter, and the Valley Oak League’s second-place squad regained momentum from there 

After starting the final period down 53-42, Manteca (6-3, 14-8 overall) shrank the deficit to four, 55-51, at one point and thought it drew even closer with Marissa Serrano’s 3-pointer with 3:01 remaining. The big shot did not end up counting, however, as the ball bounced high off the front of the rim and hit a supporting strap — rarely seen at high school gyms these days — above the backboard before dropping through the hoop. 

Kimball (8-1, 16-4) had not made a field goal in the fourth quarter, but on its next possession Kayia Ransom was able to convert an and-one layup and the free throw. 

“I didn’t see it, but once that happened I knew we had to get back on defense,” Serrano said. “It all just happened quick.”

And just like that, the Buffaloes’ bid to shake up the top half of the VOL standings vanished. Raziya Potter led the Jaguars with 26 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists. She hit four 3s in the first half to keep them in it as Manteca took command early on but did most of her damage from the free-throw line over the final two quarters, making 6 of 10. Pearl Bautista added 13 points and three steals.

The Buffaloes raced to a 12-3 lead at the start and didn’t trail until Potter found Alicia Leonardo for a layup early in the third. Normally a team that relies on defense, Manteca was up 35-29 at halftime with Selena Lopez (eight points) and Serrano (seven) each draining a pair of 3s and tallying all of their points.

“That was by far the best half of offense we’ve played,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “The girls played hard and I’m proud of the way they played. Kimball is a legit team and it was wire-to-wire.

“Raziya is a great player,” he added. “She took control. When they needed a big bucket she’d hit it, and Pearl was attacking the middle. We weren’t able to stop those two tonight.”

Manteca was led by its young backcourt tandem of Jayda Jackson and Kyaira Jacobs, who tallied 17 points apiece. 

The Buffaloes cooled off considerably in the third quarter when they were outscored 24-7, but much of that is attributed to Kimball’s three-quarter court press and trap defenses that caused 15 second-half turnovers.

“The press kind of scared us a little bit, but previously we had been doing good with it,” Jackson said. “Tonight, we just couldn’t follow through with our potential of breaking presses. It was hard for us to get the ball across the court when they started pressing.”

To the Buffaloes’ credit, they still managed to make a game of it in the end and appear to have put last-week’s one-sided 61-30 loss to VOL-leading Lathrop behind them. 

“I feel we came into the game thinking we could win,” Serrano said. “Scoring 35 points in the first half really boosted us, but then we backed off a little bit. I still think we performed pretty well and can get better from this.”