MODESTO – Despite enjoying a 17-point lead midway through the second quarter, it took a jumper by Tydus Verhoeven in the game’s closing seconds to help give Manteca a 79-76 win over Freedom-Oakley in opening-round action of the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic.
With 11 seconds remaining Freedom’s Baylei Coston hit a pair of free throws to give the Falcons (6-2) a 76-75 lead, the fifth lead change of the period. Verhoeven took the ensuing inbounds pass and drove the length of the court, cutting back to the key and unleashing a jump shot that hit nothing but net with 2.9 seconds left.
“I dribbled down and they took away my first look to the left,” Verhoeven said. “I looked to the middle and got a nice little floater shot.”
The Falcons then called a timeout, but they had none left so a technical foul was called. Dwight Young hit both free throws for his tenth point of the quarter, leading all scorers with 25 points.
“We all played hard,” Young said. “We all played out parts.
“We shot the ball well. We just have to continue to keep working hard.”
Young came off the bench for the Buffaloes (9-0), giving the lineup an extra boost.
“Young brings a lot for us,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “Scoring – he is very smart.
“We moved him. He started the first five or six games for us but we moved him to coming off the bench to give us a spark mid-first quarter and he definitely did that today. He has accepted that role and he has been huge.”
Despite a rough start – Freedom made five steals in the first two minutes – the Buffaloes recovered for a 25-17 lead at the end of the period due in part to a pair of 3-pointers by Frankie Lopez. He had five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points.
“We came out flat a little,” Lopez said. “Then we got it inside to the bigs for them to do their thing or kick it out to the shooters.”
After Young’s 25 points and Lopez’s 15, the bigs made up the lion’s share of the Manteca attack. All 6-foot-8 or better, Verhoeven (13 points, nine rebounds, three rebounds), Kenny Wooten (12 points, nine rebounds, four blocks) and Anand Hundal (10 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) dominated the paint, forcing Freedom shooters away from the basket throughout the game.
In spite of being dominated underneath, the Falcons comeback gave the Buffaloes an insight into what they need to work on.
“This was one of the better teams we have played so far,” Lewis said. “They battled back and forced us to make some bad mistakes but this is what we wanted.
“We wanted to get tested we wanted to get pushed to see what we need to work on.”
Tre’von Collins led Freedom with 14 points.
Manteca plays Modesto Christian today a 6 p.m. in a quarterfinal contest.