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Buffaloes uptempo play too much for powerhouse Turlock
Jessica Reeder steps in front of a pass intended for Turlocks Cierra Peace for one of her six steals in a nonleague contest at Manteca High Tuesday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Karleasha Thompson is fast.

Manteca High’s girls basketball team proved to be just as fast without her.

The standout guard sat the final three quarters of the Buffaloes’ nonleague clash with visiting Turlock Tuesday with an injury, but her absence was hardly noticeable thanks to the team’s depth, overall team speed and scrappy play in a resounding 67-41 win.

Point guard Mikayla Hasal led Manteca (2-0) with 21 points, five rebounds, seven steals, four assists and two blocks.

Nine different Buffaloes scored. Brianna Bell scored nine of her 13 points in the second quarter, and Jaqi Gutierrez added 11 points and six rebounds.

“We play well as a team,” Hasal said. “We haven’t had a year like this where everyone is so willing to give up their own shots for other people.”

Hasal also attributed her team’s hot start to its stifling pressure defense.

Turlock (1-3) was forced into 34 turnovers and had to foul just to slow the Buffaloes down. Manteca took advantage from the foul line, making 22 of 26 attempts. The undersized Buffs also dominated the boards, outrebounding the opposition, 40-22.

It was a showdown between defending league champions, but the Division-I Bulldogs — who have tallied at least 20 wins the past four years along with four straight Central California Conference titles — were outmatched from the outset.

Turlock never led, and Manteca opened the third quarter on an 11-2 tear to make it 51-24.

Thompson was off to a quick start before landing awkwardly on her left knee during a fastbreak sequence with 1:51 left in the opening quarter. She finished with six points, three rebounds and two steals.

Reserve guard Jessica Reeder filled in well for Thompson, while starter Mia Ramirez continued to terrorize Turlock with her smothering defense. Ramirez and Reeder each collected six steals. Myklyn Balmut (seven rebounds), Kari Cherry (six points, five rebounds) and Jasmine Odell (six rebounds, three steals) came off the bench and were productive in the post.

Cierra Peace scored 13 points to pace Turlock.

“The girls contributed when they came into the game — we didn’t drop off at all,”  Manteca coach Andrea Hiatt said. “Karleasha went down with her knee (injury) and Reeder came in and picked up where (Thompson) left off.

“It’s nice that we’re able to spread the ball around and not have to go to one or two people, we’re pretty balanced. We’re not going to wow you much but we’re going to go out there and work hard.”

Manteca won’t play again until next Tuesday, Dec. 13 when it plays host to Johansen.


Manteca 40, Turlock 21

The Buffaloes led by three going into the final quarter before racing away behind an 18-point flurry.

McKenna Balmut fired in 14 points for Manteca, while Abbie Behler contributed 12.