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Manteca lets golden opportunity slip away
Manteca High standout point guard Kiwi Gardner draws the and-1 foul on Golden Valley’s Richard Thomas in the first half of Thurday’s Tracy Winter Holiday Classic contest at West High. Gardner finished with 14 points. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
TRACY — It was a game that Manteca led nearly from wire to wire, but in the end a few crucial categories spelled doom for the Buffaloes Thursday night at West High in a 67-62 loss to Golden Valley.
“We gave them too many second-chance opportunities,” Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion said. “We didn’t want to rebound tonight, and it cost us the game.”
Manteca managed just four first-quarter rebounds and only 10 the entire second half.
Nick Scheible (20 points) did his part on the boards, hauling in 13 rebounds, but the rest of the Buffs managed work the glass for just 15 more.
Turnovers also hampered Manteca, especially in the second half. Golden Valley’s press caused a number of errant passes that erased important Buffalo possessions.
The crucial stretch of the contest came at the 2:36 mark of the third when the Cougars went on a 9-0 run that turned an 11-point Buffs lead into a 52-50 Manteca-led nailbiter with 30 seconds left in the period.
Scheible’s layup with 3:47 left in the fourth gave Manteca a 59-54 lead, but a quick six-point Golden Valley spurt gave the Cougars their first lead since the opening minute at 60-59 with 2:50 left on the clock.
“Tip your hat to Golden Valley,” Asuncion said. “They shot the ball well, they executed well, and they caused us to get out of what we wanted to do. We wanted to get the ball inside.”
A Scheible free throw with 1:25 left tied the contest at 62, but an Alex Fletcher offensive putback with 25 seconds left gave the Cougars a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Their little press got us to go a little faster,” Asuncion said. “It made us do things we didn’t want to do, and some shots didn’t go our way.”
Kiwi Gardner was electrifying early on, scoring 10 first-quarter points on a number of nifty drives through the lane and a pull-up 3-pointer that made it 10-4.
But Golden Valley caught on quickly and swarmed Gardner the rest of the way.
Gardner (four assists) finished with 14 points, but only two in the second half.
Ernie Pimentel had an outstanding night distributing the ball, finishing with 10 assists, five alone in the second quarter, and all converted for layups.
LaRon Bennett nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner in the first half and finished with eight all told.
Fletcher paced the Cougars with 23, and John Sykes added 18 as Golden Valley let it fly from the behind the arc, hitting eight 3-pointers.
Manteca (8-2) faces Buhach Colony today in the third round of the Tracy Winter Holiday Classic.
Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Tracy High.