MODESTO – Ramesh Kabiri helped Manteca shoot out of the gate on fire Tuesday, with the Buffaloes scoring the first 10 points of the contest and 15 of the first 19 on the way to an 81-43 thumping of Gregori in opening-round action of the Mark Gallo Invitational Basketball Tournament at the Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center.
“We usually start off slow,” Kabiri said. “Today, I wanted to start off really fast, rack the ball and always push the ball.”
Kabiri tallied eight points and four rebounds in that sizzling first quarter and ended up with 14 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“Ramesh kind of tested them right away,” Manteca coach Jason Hitt said. “At our tournament, everyone played Ramesh pretty solid. They already knew him, and Gregori must not have known him all that well. After Ramesh blew by their point guard the first time he knew he could do it every time.
“That got his confidence up, and he was able to make some early layups with Noah (Lyons), Jacob (Paul) and (Peyton) Niemen knocking down some 3s. Ramesh kind of opened everything up, but we have to get better at pounding the ball inside and playing off of our bigs.”
The Buffaloes’ Santiago Sanders also put up a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Manteca (4-1) hammered the Jaguars 54-18 on the boards.
“We had a good defensive effort,” Sanders said. “Before the game, we talked about rebounding and boxing out and we did a good job at that.”
With the Buffaloes leading 64-33 after three quarters, Hitt went to his bench, which included Hudson Wyatt and Alijah Cota, two football players who have one basketball practice under their belts.
In the first minute of the fourth period, Cota (four points) had two of his four rebounds and a block.
“We’ve had one practice with the football players,” Hitt said. “Two of them still aren’t out yet — one is injured and the other is sick. Hudson Wyatt and Alijah Cota came out, and Alijah hasn’t played since eighth grade and he did a good job with some put-backs and Wyatt hasn’t played in a year.
“They definitely give us some depth and physicality along with a winning attitude. They expect to compete every single day and will put some pressure on the other guys if they don’t step up, are too comfortable in their roles or are not being aggressive rebounders and play defense. If that’s the case, someone is going to take their spot. I was pretty happy we were able to get those football guys in and get them a little run but they found out really quick this was a little bit different kind of sport because they were pretty winded and I don’t think they thought I was going to put them in.”
Lyons led all scorers with 20 points behind a pair of 3-pointers. Nieman (nine points, four rebounds, steal) and Paul (six points) had two 3-pointers apiece. Teammate Micah Crawford (assist, two steals) flirted with a double-double at eight points and nine rebounds.
Paul Contreras led Gregori (2-5) with 14 points behind four 3-pointers.
Manteca concludes pool play Thursday at 5 p.m. against Burbank of Sacramento.
Downey 64, Ripon Christian 37
Ripon Christian (2-2) hung with undefeated Downey (7-0) for a half before Downey outscored Ripon Christian 19-5 in the third quarter.
“We got tired in that second half,” Ripon Christian coach Mark Hofman said. “We just got the football guys back Monday and it’s going to take us about a week or two to get rolling.
“In our school where kids play multiple sports, it takes a while to transition from one sport to another. Couple that with our injuries, and our rotations are a little different than they used to be. It’s just going to take a little time.”
Luke Crivello led Ripon Christian with nine points and Derek Van Elderen added eight.
Downey’s Lloyd French led all scorers with a whopping 40 points and Calaun Lee added 10 points.
Ripon Christian continues round-robin play today at 3:30 p.m. against Liberty Ranch of Galt.