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Vanden buries manteca with 3-point shooting
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It wasn’t when or where Manteca wanted its season to end, but it’s done.

The Buffaloes fought without cease Thursday in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III Girls Basketball Championships but couldn’t keep pace with No. 2 seed Vanden of Fairfield in a 59-48 defeat.

Manteca (21-8) held a seven-point lead opening the second half, but in a matter of minutes the outlook of the contest changed.  Vanden’s Toni Taylor caught fire, dropping four 3-pointers in the third quarter and lifting Vanden to its most productive quarter of the contest. Vanden outscored Manteca 22-8 in the third period and it was the difference.

“Vanden is known for its 3-point shooting and we did a good job on them in the first half,” Manteca head coach Cody Norman said. “The third quarter they hit six 3s and their point guard just caught fire. She hit four in that quarter in a 2-to-3 minute span and they were her only makes of the game.

“She got going and really sparked their whole team.”

The loss was Manteca’s first in 10 games after dropping a non-league contest to Benicia last month. The Buffaloes rolled off a perfect 14-0 run through the Valley Oak League campaign, yet their No. 7 seed put them on the inevitable crash-course with one of the section’s best teams.

Vanden, who has won 13 straight Solano League titles, has reeled off 16 consecutive victories with the win over Manteca, solidifying the club’s No. 2 seeding and putting them a victory away from playing in the March 1 championship contest at Sleep Train Arena.

“It’s tough. Looking back at the season it’s kind of a blur,” Norman said. “Being new to Manteca, being new to the girls side of basketball; we lost to Vanden in the first round three years ago and we lost in the second round the past two years, so I really wanted these girls to experience that next level.

“To be able to make that next step is tough.”

Vanden had only two players finish in double-figures, Kayla Blair (15 points) and Taylor (12 points), but got points from seven players on the squad. The Vikings sank 11 3-pointers in the contest, with Taylor sinking four of her six 3-point attempts.

Courtney Range led the Buffaloes with 20, while teammate Jasmine Odell chipped in with a dozen. Mikayla Hasal added six in the loss.