MODESTO — Manteca coach Brett Lewis must give one heck of a halftime speech.
After a lackadaisical first half that saw the Buffaloes trail Salesian College Prep of Richmond by 11 points Thursday, Manteca’s Gino Campiotti started the third quarter on fire with six unanswered points as part of a 9-0 run. The Pride recovered and never lost the lead, winning the semifinal contest of the 17th Annual Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic 79-69 at Modesto Christian High School.
“We had a good halftime speech,” Campiotti said. “We came out hard in the second half and wanted to win, but it just slipped away.
“We came out in the third quarter the way we planned to start the game but then momentum shifted back to them and they took it from there.”
After stumbling to start the second half, Salesian (11-3) ended the third period on a 14-5 run and Manteca (7-4) would come no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“We knew we had it in us,” Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis said of his team’s second-half start. “We didn’t play like we wanted to in the first half. We played scared for the first six minutes.
“We left a lot of points on the board and gave up some points we shouldn’t have. It’s like our guys didn’t think we belonged.”
Manteca fell behind 16-7 after six minutes.
“Take away that first six minutes and I thought we competed pretty well. That start hurt.”
There were 46 fouls called with each team getting 23.
“The game was called a certain way,” Pride coach Bill Mellis said. “Our guys had to adjust to the officiating and that happens – that happened both ways. Sometimes we jump out too hard and we get a hand on guys and some of those were being called, so we were a little hesitant in the second half. We need to go back to what we do best and at times we didn’t.”
Salesian had pinpoint passing all night, and many times the plays began with an underhand bounce bass from the point to the wing.
“We work on that,” Mellis said of the underhand pass. “That is a more difficult pass to pick off.
“But Manteca is a good team and they took us out of a lot of things and they did a good job defensively on us. This is good because we need some adversity and we have to be able to fight through those things.”
Gino Campiotti (19 points, four rebounds), Dwight Young (19 points) and Tydus Verhoeven (18 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks) accounted for 56 of the 69 Buffaloes points. Unfortunately for Manteca, Young, Verhoeven and Matthew Ender (seven points, five steals, four rebounds, three assists) got in foul trouble early and were relegated to limited roles.
James Akinjo, a junior and one of the Pride’s 12 underclassmen, led all scorers with 25 points.
It will not get any easier for Manteca when the Buffaloes face tournament host Modesto Christian for third place tonight at 6. The Crusaders lost an overtime thriller to Central of Fresno on Thursday.
“Modesto Christian is a good program,” Lewis said. “They played really well tonight. Hopefully we can match their intensity Friday after this. These are some tough games to bounce back from and this will be a huge test for us.”
“There will be a lot of emotion and we need to sell out and it will a good game.”
The Crusaders are no stranger to Manteca with the teams competing against each other in the offseason.
“We played them over the summer,” Lewis said. “We scrimmaged them at our place at the beginning of the year. We didn’t have football guys then but it was good for both of us. It should be fun.”