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Manteca hopes to keep pace with Vanden
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Weston Ranch was the only Valley Oak League girls basketball team willing to challenge three-time champion Manteca High with a full-court press.

Seventh-seeded Manteca (21-6) expects to get an even stiffer test from No. 2 Vanden (25-3) in tonight’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinal showdown in Fairfield. Also tonight, No. 5 Ripon heads to No. 4 Argonaut in a highly-anticipated Division-IV showdown, while Ripon Christian hosts No. 5 Woodland Christian following a first-round bye in Division V.

Loaded with athletes and a deep bench, Vanden is riding a 16-game winning streak that includes a 76-38 thrashing of Wesotn Ranch on Jan. 19. Weston Ranch was far more competitive with Manteca in their two VOL contests, losing 56-48 and 56-54.

“Weston Ranch is similar, but Vanden beat Weston Ranch handily,” Manteca coach Cody Norman said. “We’ll get some game film, we’ll watch Vanden and we’ll work on it. Unfortunately, we really haven’t faced a whole lot of full-court traps because Mikayla and Courtney are so good with the ball in their hands, but I think the girls trust our press break. It’ll come down to trusting what we have in place and executing.”

Vanden’s three losses came in the four-day Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. The Vikings fell to Southern California powerhouse Etiwanda, Nevada state-ranked Bishop Manogue and 25-1 Enterprise. They’ve been on a tear since.

Against Center in Tuesday’s opening round, the Vikings fell behind 5-1 early on before answering with a torrid 39-0 run. They ended up winning, 69-18.

Mariah Williams, a 5-foot-11 junior wing, leads Vanden with 11 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. She is just one of eight players averaging at least five points, so Vanden’s production can come from anywhere on any given night.

Ripon (23-4), fresh off Wednesday’s 54-30 win over Bret Harte, will have little to no time to get ready for undefeated Argonaut (28-0), which opened its postseason run Tuesday like most others in Division IV. The Ripon-Bret Harte contest was one of two section-wide that were canceled Tuesday because of snow.

Returning guards Cara Tortorich, Karissa Cabri, Morgan Roots and forward Kobie Pettis are among Argonaut’s top players. Contente said his team has limited information on the Mustangs but is prepared to make adjustments on the fly.

“We’re just going to go out and play, and if we play like we can we’ll be OK,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve heard some things about them and hopefully we have a good idea, but we’ll just have to wait and see. They’re athletic, they like to run the floor and they play hard.”

Woodland Christian (25-3) hopes to upset No. 4 Ripon Christian (19-6) coming off a 45-41 win over Le Grand. Ripon Christian did away with Le Grand more emphatically in Southern League action, winning by 57-20 and 52-33 margins.

Perhaps a more apt comparison is how they fared against Turlock Christian, the second-seeded squad in the bracket and SL co-champion along with RC. Woodland Christian lost 51-41 to TC in early December, while RC split with the Eagles in two games decided by single-digit margins.

Six-foot sophomore Rebecca Williams is Woodland’s top producer with 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds.