STOCKTON — Manteca High wanted to avoid playing a fast-paced, open-court game at Weston Ranch on Wednesday.
For the better part of three quarters, the Buffaloes managed to do just that in their Valley Oak League opener.
But then Weston Ranch took advantage of a steal and a block — guard Charles Jamison racing back on defense to come up with the Manteca fast-break rejection — while securing the 57-52 win over the defending VOL champ.
“They had that three-minute stretch where they played their game,” said Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis of the guard-loaded Cougars.
Included was junior newcomer Devin Small, a quick 5-11 guard who was making his season debut. He helped out with nine points and three steals.
Manteca (0-1 VOL, 4-10) played an effective zone defense.
“We had trouble hitting our shots,” said Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan.
The Cougars (1-0 VOL, 9-3) led through most of the game but the Buffaloes kept close thanks in part to Gino Campiotti and Jorge Cedano, who finished with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Cedano’s behind-the-back pass resulted in a Campiotti layup, tying the game at 21-21 early in the second. He also found Matthew Ender on an interior pass late in the third.
“We’re at our best when we share the ball,” said Lewis.
Gavin Wilburn once again orchestrated the Weston Ranch offense.
But it was his one-handed, put-back slam dunk in the fourth that rocked the house.
Not too long after that, freshman swingman Donjae’ Lindsey had a steal leading to a breakaway dunk.
Makhi Turner, who had a team-high 16 points, scored on a fast-break, drawing a foul while connecting on a three-point play.
After Campiotti scored on an in-bound play, Manteca forced a turnover and appeared clear for a layup, trailing 54-47 late in the game. But Jemison came out of nowhere to swat the shot away.
He along with Small, Lindsey, Turner, Wilburn and Raul Melgarejo were part of a balanced attack.
Lindsey and Melgarejo both had nine while Wilburn, who had six rebounds, added six.
Melgarejo collected seven boards to go with his two blocks and a steal.
Weston Ranch also took the sophomore game, beating Manteca, 50-41.