Manteca shot out of the gate with an 8-1 run and never trailed Friday night in a 68-55 win over visiting Central Catholic in Valley Oak League boys basketball action at Winter Gymnasium.
“That was a pretty good start,” Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis said. “We wanted to make a stand on defense. We wanted to alter shots because we knew they could shoot. We knew we could protect the rim but we wanted to protect the 3-point line, too.
“We are pretty athletic. No knock on them – they are pretty danged athletic and get up and down the floor for sure – but I don’t think we get a lot of credit for being able to do that, too. We like to tempo to be up a little bit and we like that type of game.”
Manteca (5-1 VOL, 16-3 overall) dominated in the paint and won the battle of the boards 38-25 with Buffaloes big men Kenny Wooten, Tydus Verhoeven and Anand Hundal combining for 26 rebounds.
With the Raiders (4-2, 15-3) trying to battle underneath Manteca point guard Dwight Young was able to score eight points in both the first and third quarters and finished with 19 points and five rebounds.
“We just came out hard,” Young said. “I was looking for my shot and I was able to hit them.”
Hundal had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds with two of those rebounds coming off of his own blocks.
“A big part of our defense is to keep them out of the middle,” Hundal said. “And when they do get to the middle we try to block shots. That is one of the keys to our success – defense first – and that leads to our offense.
“Coach teaches us that we may not be able to block every shot but maybe we can change every shot. We have been working on that a lot in practice and it pays off in games.”
Wooten had 18 points as well and flirted with a double-double, pulling down nine rebounds.
“We started off hot knocking down a few shots, moving the ball and pushing it up really quick,”
Wooten said. “We came out and executed and played hard on defense.”
Wooten had four of Manteca’s eight blocks, some of which were very crowd-pleasing.
“I tend to work hard on defense,” Wooten said. “I try to get us energy and make a statement.”
With Wooten’s resounding dunks and blocks bringing the packed Winter Gym crowd to its feet many times, the most crowd-pleasing play came early in the second quarter between Verhoeven (11 points, six rebounds, three assists and a block) and Frankie Lopez (four rebounds, three assists).
Verhoeven skied to make a block for Lopez to recover. Lopez then drove the length of the court before directing a behind-the-back pass to Verhoeven, who slammed a dunk for a 25-13 lead, the biggest lead for the Buffaloes to that point.
Peter Hamilton led Central Catholic with 14 points, and Cooper Wilson added 13.