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Manteca secures outright championship
Lathrop gets VOLs final automatic playoff berth; EU falls at CC
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OAKDALE — Manteca already had at least a piece of the Valley Oak League championship when it visited Oakdale for the final regular-season game of the season Tuesday.
Two senior standouts made sure that full ownership stayed with the Buffaloes. McDonald’s All-American Loretta Kakala was efficient in her 22-point effort, Syd’nee Fryer added 19 and Manteca rolls into the postseason following a 63-46 win.
“We knew Oakdale has been playing teams tough so we talked about not taking them lightly,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “Their record doesn’t show how dangerous they can be, so we wanted to stay focused and treat this like a championship game.
“We were a little flat in the first quarter but Loretta really sparked us for the rest of the game. She and Syd’nee really stepped up tonight. They wanted this for their teammates.”
The 6-foot-3, Louisville-bound Kakala made all five of her field goals in the first half, and Manteca (13-1 VOL, 16-10 overall) led 27-18 at the break. She finished 10 for 12 from the field, pulled down 12 rebounds and also had five blocks and four assists. Fryer, who is heading to Southern Oregon, contributed seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Selena Lopez made four 3s for all of her 12 points. Oakdale (3-11, 13-14) was led by Madison Brewer’s 18 points and Zoe Gillen’s 10. The Buffaloes pulled away with a 22-12 fourth-quarter spurt.
The league title is Manteca’s first since earning three in a row in 2011-13.
“Before the season the girls came together and set some goals,” Bono said. “First and foremost was to win a VOL title. I’m proud of the way the girls worked all year.”
Bono added that his players found inspiration during the sophomore game.
Hazel Vera got to play for the first time this season in the final minute and made one of two free throws. She was diagnosed with malformation of the brain and underwent surgery in late October.
“It was a reality check for us,” Bono said. “It brought the girls to tears. It was a reminder that we go out there for the love of the game, and Hazel showed the girls that there is more to life than just basketball.”
Central Catholic 52,
East Union 48
MODESTO — Donja Payne (25 points, 15 rebounds) picked up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter, and Ruby Daube (seven points) was also limited by foul trouble. That led to East Union’s offensive struggles in the second half after it was ahead 34-22 at halftime.
Danielle Friedrich and Alexandra Candelario spearheaded the Raiders (9-5, 18-9) with 19 and 16 points, respectively.
The Lancers (6-8, 17-10) stand a good chance of qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with an at-large bid. They went into their league finale ranked seventh in the MaxPreps SJS Division III rankings. A top-12 finish gets them in.

Lathrop 56, Sierra 31
The Spartans (9-5, 16-10) advances to the SJS playoffs with the third and final automatic berth after coasting past Sierra (2-12, 4-22).
Raiann Prieto finished with 11 points to lead Sierra. Alison Edwards and Jasmin Correa turned in eight each. Stat leaders for Lathrop were unavailable as of press time.
“We had a hard time adjusting to their press and they shot well,” Sierra coach Martha Spivey said. “As always, we fought hard until the end. This team is very special and it has been an honor to be along the ride with them.”

East Union 38,
Central Catholic 16
MODESTO — East Union punctuated its 26-0 season with a one-sided win, and did so with its normal starters sitting for most of the first half.
Nina Murphy piled up 14 points in limited minutes. Megan Miller (nine rebounds), Annie Welch (10 rebounds) and Brianna Capps (five rebounds) contributed four points each.

Weston Ranch 45,
Kimball 39
TRACY — Jennalyn Laminero gashed Kimball for 22 points, four assists and four steals, helping Weston Ranch claim the outright VOL championship.
Jazlyn White chipped in six points and eight boards. Julianna Lassiter and Darnaysha Huff (six rebounds, six steals, three blocks) also had six points apiece, but their main contribution was coming up with defensive stops to halt Kimball’s late comeback run.