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Manteca holds off Sierra in stunner
Godfrey, Odell shine to hand TWolves 2nd straight loss
Sierra guard Guillermo Nunez fires a shot over Manteca High’s BJ Odell. For additional photos, visit - photo by CHRIS LEONARD
Manteca High’s boys basketball team saved one of its best performances of the season Wednesday against crosstown rival Sierra.

Behind the one-two punch of B.J. Odell and E.J. Godfrey, the Buffaloes came away with a surprising 53-49 Valley Oak League victory over the Timberwolves.

Odell poured in a game-high 23 points while Godfrey added 16.

But credit the strong overall play by the Buffaloes.

“We played solid defense,” said Manteca coach Dave Asuncion, for starters.

A key stretch of the game occurred late in the fourth shortly after the Buffaloes’ Ryan Culpepper nailed a 3-pointer, tying the game at 42-42. Prior to that, Sierra forged ahead for the first time since the end of the opening period on back-to-back shots by Jerrod Patton and Will Ward, respectively.

After Godfrey’s free throw, Matt Mueller came up with a steal, finding Godfrey for the quick basket.

In the final two minutes, Godfrey delivered on a finger-roll shot while Odell capped the 10-0 run by converting on a pair of free throws.

Down 49-42, Sierra sophomore guard Guillermo Nunez drained a trey from straight away. He came back moments later with a jumper.

The Timberwolves’ 6-foot-5 junior center Will Ward battled inside to convert a field  goal, cutting the deficit to three with 11.3 seconds remaining, 51-49.

Sierra (5-2, 14-5 overall) quickly fouled Culpepper, who then iced the game by hitting both free throws.

“We played with no sense of urgency,” said Timberwolves coach Scott Thomason, who saw his team drop its second straight VOL game. “Our intensity wasn’t there.”

The latter made for a big difference, according to Odell.

“We came in focused and just gave it our all,” he said.

Manteca (4-3, 7-11) also played with more composure and fluidness not seen in previous games, with senior guard Rigo Gutierrez contributing in that area.

“I think he’s getting a better understanding on how to play the point (after starting there the past two games),” Asuncion said.

Eddie Andrade, who shot lights out the previous game at Weston Ranch, maintained the hot hand at the start of the game, delivering on a pair of 3s to give Sierra an early 10-5 lead.

But the Buffaloes kept it close on baskets by Odell and Godfrey, who also collected 10 rebounds.

Odell got hot in the second quarter, hitting three straight field goals and managing a block.

Ward, who finished with 16 points, hit a pair of baskets shortly before the intermission to keep the game close.

Manteca led at the break, 21-19.

Jerrod Patton opened the second half for the Timberwolves with a put-back shot to even the game at 21-21. The Buffaloes then put together a 10-2 rally fueled by 3-pointers from Odell and Culpepper.

Down 31-23, Sierra answered back on Grant Widmer’s bank shot, Patton’s three-point play, and Nunez’s steal and layup. Nunez also finished with 16 points.

“Anytime Sierra and Manteca play, you know it’s going to be a tough game,” Asuncion said.