MORAGA — One of Manteca’s shortest players stood tall Monday during the 20th annual MaxPreps/De La Salle Martin Luther King Jr. Classic at St. Mary’s College’s McKeon Pavilion.
Reserve guard Kyle Bolding passed up an open jumper along the baseline to send a buzzer-beating floater over 6-foot-7 Bryan Talley, and the Buffaloes celebrated a thrilling 86-84 overtime victory over Rancho Mirage of Southern California. It was the first of six games featuring top-caliber teams from the state.
The 5-11 Bolding is the Buffaloes’ latest hero in the showcase event. Last year, it was 6-9 center Anand Hundal who lifted Manteca past Berkeley 76-74, scoring seven of his 24 points in the second of two overtime periods.
Bolding’s clutch effort went beyond his game-winning shot. After 6-foot-7 standout Tydus Verhoeven and starting point guard Matthew Ender fouled out in the opening minute of the extra session, the Buffs (12-5) needed someone to facilitate the offense in crunch time. Bolding answered the call, finishing with five points including a big 3 in regulation.
“He came in and played some big minutes, and it was good for him to be in that spot,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “He really kept us together because Matt does a lot for us. It didn’t hurt us at all when Matt fouled out.
“I would have never thought (Bolding) would have the impact he did. I was just hoping he’d keep us together, but that was a big shot.”
Verhoeven ended up with 15 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks. Gino Campiotto led Manteca with 23 points to go with 14 rebounds. Dwight Young fired 17 points and buried a pivotal 3 after the Buffs trailed by four early in overtime. It was Young who set up Bolding with the game-winning shot, making the pass after drawing a triple team at the 3-point arc.
Jorge Cedano poured in 20 points and four assists, and the sophomore guard was instrumental in keeping Manteca afloat in the first half when he scored 14 of his points while drilling four 3s.
“We were struggling from the field big time,” Lewis said. “We were kind of sleep walking, but Jorge really kept us going and gave us a lead at half.”
Manteca led 41-33 at halftime but could not slow down talented 6-3 guard Charles Neal, who accumulated a game-high 41 points before fouling out in overtime. Brian Talley, a 6-7 sophomore guard, added 19 points.
The Rattlers (16-3) come from a new school in Riverside County and return much of their talent from last year’s team that reached the Southern Section Division III semifinals. Manteca is the reigning CIF State Division III championship.
“They’re really good and very long,” Lewis said. “Besides Tydus, their whole team was taller than our team and it was a good challenge for us. Our guys stepped up. We didn’t get the shots at the rim we’re used to getting because of their length, but they were able to battle through it and knock down some outside shots.
“It was a good team for us to see at this time. I think we learned a lot about ourselves.”
It’s just the beginning of a tough stretch for Manteca, which was coming off a big 61-58 win over Central Catholic. The Buffaloes return to Valley Oak League action tonight against cross-town foe Sierra, and after facing Oakdale they’ll take on Lathrop on the road Saturday.
“I still think we haven’t scratched the surface on how good we can be,” Lewis said. “We’re showing glimpses, but at times we’re showing our youth. Once again we blew a 10-point lead today and that’s going to come back to bite us at some point, but then again we’re playing some good teams, too. We’re winning games that we could easily lose, but we’re figuring out ways to win which is a good thing.”