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Poise helps Buffs skate past CV
EJ Godfrey powers up for a shot at the basket while a Central Valley defender prepares to make a stand. - photo by Photo by CHRIS LEONARD
The Manteca Buffaloes weren’t sweating the fact that they were playing from behind for most of the first half Wednesday night.

With the Central Valley Hawks visiting from Ceres, Manteca seemed unusually calm despite losing by as many as eight points and not having ball-handling guru Kiwi Gardner to help close the gap.

But with the right combination of poise and defense, the Buffaloes were able to establish a third-quarter run that was intensified by the Hawks not netting a single field-goal for the entire 8 minutes – eventually amassing a 16 point lead that they would ride out for the 49-39 victory inside of the Dr. Robert C. Winter gymnasium.

“I thought that Central Valley did a good job covering us tonight,” Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion said. “But I thought that we came out tonight and played some good defense.

“We improvised well, and we were able to really shut them down in the third quarter and get ourselves back in the game. Obviously there are still some things that we need to work on, and we have practice twice this week so we’re going to be able to address those things. Next week is a big week for us, and we need to start working on it.”

Manteca (4-1 VOL, 11-5 overall) turned to a handful of role players to fill the gap left by Gardner – who watched his last game from the sidelines Wednesday night and will likely  be on the court when Manteca battles cross-town rival Sierra High.

Senior Captain Gerry Cooper racked up 10 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double and helped spur the Manteca offense for its second half explosion. Almost all of his boards were defensive and helped set up scoring opportunities.

Cooper also had a block and a steal on the defensive side of the ball.

Ernie Pimentel also finished the game with 10 points, while Taylor Hasal racked up nine points and both CJ Rivas and EJ Godfrey finished the game with seven points.