As Manteca head coach Andrea Hiatt pointed out in her postgame comments following a frustrating 64-54 home setback to Oakdale Thursday night, the Valley Oak League season is here, and the time for excuses has passed.
But while the Buffaloes will find plenty of reason for “woulda, coulda, shoulda” when they roll back the game film, the good news is, for three quarters, Manteca played toe-to-toe with a strong Mustang squad worthy of a VOL darkhorse distinction.
“It was a close one, but we let them come back on us,” Manteca point guard Morgan Salsedo said. “We played hard, but we’ll have to pull together for the next one. Get focused.
“We played lethargic. They outrebounded us, we weren’t getting any bodies down low. No one really stepped up.”
Manteca’s frustration began with the score knotted at 45 heading into the decisive frame.
It took nearly three minutes for Sharon Washington to score Manteca’s first bucket. By that time, Oakdale was already up 52-47 and chugging toward the road upset.
Cassandra Clark delivered the nail in the coffin moments later when she drained a wide-open three from the right corner, capping a 9-2 run and giving Oakdale a commanding 61-49 advantage.
“I’m frustrated,” Hiatt said. “We play three great quarters, and then we just get out of control when it counts. Costly turnovers at costly times, missed assignments, lack off communication. We just fell apart at the end. It was ours to take and we didn’t take it.
“We needed to stay on Clark and we let her hit that huge three in the corner. We can’t have that.”
Clark finished with 16 points and Hannah Stanton had 18.
Jennie Paugh added 12.
“Oakdale played a great game,” Hiatt said. “They came out wanting to win the game.”
The Mustangs dominated the glass as Manteca managed just 16 total rebounds.
Davina Bennett (12 points) scored eight first-quarter points, but Oakdale caught on quickly and the Buffs struggled to find Bennett the rest of the way.
Salsedo and Sharon Washington both had 11, and Cynthia Perez netted eight.
“At this point of the season, we can’t be making mistakes,” Hiatt said. “We’re in league now. It’s here. It’s in our face.
We can’t have excuses anymore.
“The girls work very hard, they just need to see where they’re making their mistakes. Hopefully the next time we play Oakdale, we’ll play them a little differently.”
Manteca (1-1 VOL, 8-7 overall) travels to Ceres Tuesday.
In Sonora, EU assistant coach Scott Renke called the Lancers’ defensive performance a “total lockdown.”
Sonora’s potent scoring combination of Kelli Keefe, Tori Selesia and Raven Anderson totaled 52 points Tuesday night in a win at Sierra High.
Thursday night in the foothills, the trio managed just 23.
“The catalyst was total team defense,” Renke said. “We knew we had to stop certain scorers on their team and we committed to that. (Ashley) Rose (19 points, 5 assists) and (Rachel) McDaniel (13 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) showed unbelievable senior leadership.”
Shalane Jackson chipped in seven points and nine boards, while Lexy Posz had four steals, and Rachel O’Neal grabbed nine rebounds.
Renke credited O’Neal with shutting down Anderson, a 6-foot, 2-inch center and likely all-VOL performer.
“We knew going in that it was going to be an emotional game,” Renke said. “But we didn’t want to be emotionally involved, we just wanted to stick to the gameplan and come hard with the (defensive) pressure.”
EU (2-0 VOL, 15-0 overall) hosts Central Valley Tuesday.
In Weston Ranch, the Cougars (11-4 overall) evened their VOL record at 1-1 with a 21-point fourth-quarter serge.
Timnesha Wilson (6 steals) and Courtney Duran both finished with 14 points, and Danell Fox added nine including eight in the fourth.’
Jazmin Strane worked the board for 13 boards, as Weston Ranch held Hawks leading scorer Julie Calderon to just five points.
“The kids played well,” Cougars head coach Chris Bauer said. “We hustled. We executed the gameplan well. Danell stepped up big in the post.”
In Ceres, Ariel McIntyre missed the contest with a concussion and the T’Wolves suffered, losing the rebounding battle and turning the ball over 35 times in the loss.
“There’s no question (not having McIntyre) makes a difference,” Sierra head coach Isaac Gutierrez said. “But there’s no excuses, they beat us. You can’t have 35 turnovers and win a basketball game.”
Heather Scharmann had 18 points, and Sharisse Atkins added eight.
Sierra (0-2 VOL, 5-6 overall) hosts Oakdale Tuesday before traveling to Manteca Thursday.