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Manteca outlasts CV behind Gardners 28, Scheibles 27
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CERES – Prior to Wednesday, neither Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion or Sierra’s Scott Thomason wanted to admit that Friday night was circled on the calendar.

But with the Buffaloes’ 86-75 shootout win over Central Valley and the T’Wolves’ win over Sonora, both Manteca and Sierra can set their sights on what could be the Valley Oak League championship at Winter Gym.

Wednesday in Ceres, it looked as though the Hawks would play the role of spoiler, storming out to a 15-3 first-quarter lead and sinking an incredible 14 3-pointers.

But Kiwi Gardner, Nick Scheible and the rest of the Buffaloes quickly put an end to Central Valley’s hot start, answering with a 12-0 run of their own to knot the score at 15 heading into the second.

Gardner finished with a game-high 28, Scheible added 27 more and Ernie Pimentel scored 16.

Trevor Mew nailed seven treys to finish with 25 for the Hawks. Keymonte Wooten (22 points) hit four more.

“It was a shootout,” Asuncion said. “They came out, packed it in and dared us to shoot.

“We came out in the second half wanting to strike.”

Manteca took control in the third behind Gardner’s 9-of-9 clip at the charity stripe, outscoring the Hawks 24-13 in the frame.

“Kiwi attacked the zone,” Asuncion said. “He got himself to the hoop and the line.”

With the win, the Buffaloes improved to 19-3 overall.

Both Manteca and Sierra head into Friday’s contest at 8-1 in VOL play.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Asuncion said. “It’ll be nice; we’ll have a packed house. It will be a good atmosphere.”

Weston Ranch 48, Oakdale 41
In Oakdale, the score wasn’t indicative of the Cougars’ win as Oakdale made it respectable with less than two minutes to play.

The Cougars led 42-26 after three.

Char’ Ray Poole and Derrick Sykes finished with nine for Weston Ranch, and Nate Moises added eight points and eight rebounds.

With just eight healthy players and two starters sidelined, it was up to the Cougars’ bench to produce the win and that’s exactly what they did for head coach Ryan Bono.

“I’ve got to give it up to the entire team,” Bono said. “A lot of individuals who don’t get a lot of playing time stepped up and played well. It was a great team win.”

Weston Ranch (7-2 VOL, 12-9 overall) hosts East Union Friday.

East Union 54, Ceres 41
Tyler Bylow had 21 points, Larry Molina 10 and Ricky Inderbitzin eight as the Lancers claimed their second win over Ceres in as many contests.

East Union outscored the Bulldogs 31-22 in the first half.

“That was the best half we’ve had in a long time,” EU head coach Eric Simoni said. “It’s good to get back on the winning track.”

The Lancers (2-7 VOL, 3-18 overall) leap-frogged Ceres with the win and are now all alone in sixth place, with a chance to overtake Central Valley for fifth before it’s all said and done.

EU travels to Weston Ranch Friday.

— Brandon Petersen