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Sierra guard voted VOLs best
Mantecas Asuncion named Coach of the Year
Manteca High’s Dave Asuncion was named the Valley Oak League’s Coach of the Year after leading the Buffaloes to a 13-1 record and their first conference title in 20 years. - photo by Bulletin file photo
All-league boys basketball selections
Coach of the Year — Dave Asuncion, Manteca
Most Valuable Player — Sr. G Christian Williams, Sierra 
First team — Sr. G Trevor Mew, Central Valley; So. G Kiwi Gardner, Manteca; Sr. F Nick Scheible, Manteca; Jr. G Trevor Nogueira, Sierra; Sr. F Brenden Evans, Sonora; Sr. G Derrick Sykes, Weston Ranch; Jr. G Nate Moises, Weston Ranch.
Second team — Sr. G Marcus Hilgen, Ceres; Fr. G Keymonte Wooten, Central Valley; Sr. F Dominique Barnes, Manteca; Sr. G Ernie Pimentel, Manteca;l Sr. F Matt Relei, Sonora.
Honorable mention — Sr. G Martino Bertollotti, Ceres; Sr. C Chris Beleele, Central Valley; Jr. G Tyler Bylow, East Union; Jr. G Ricky Inderbitzin, East Union; Sr. C Ryan Thompson; Sr. C Chris Choate, Sierra; Sr. F Serge Veretennikov, Sierra; Jr. F Zach Gorgas, Sonora; Jr. F Ronnie Collins, Weston Ranch.
All-Defensive team — Sr. G Martino Bertollotti, Ceres; Sr. C Chris Beleele, Central Valley; Sr. G LaRon Bennett, Manteca; Sr. F Serge Veretennikov, Sierra; Sonora F Matt Relei, Sonora; Sr. G Derrick Sykes, Weston Ranch.
Christian Williams became the first at Sierra High, and Dave Asuncion achieved a first-in-a-long-time honor at Manteca.
Williams was voted the Valley Oak League’s Most Valuable Player during the coaches meeting Saturday, while Asuncion was named Coach of the Year after leading the Buffaloes to their first conference championship since 1989.
Williams is the first boys basketball player to earn MVP honors at his school, and it was a no-brainer to his head coach, Scott Thomason, and anybody else who has seen him play this year.
“If you have a heartbeat and some eyes, I think you’ll realize that Christian was the best player in our league this year,” Thomason said. “Not only did he lead us in a lot of statistical categories, he led us as a team. No one meant more to his team than he did.”
Williams averaged 26.9 points per game in 14 league contests, leading the Timberwolves to a 12-2 finish and their fourth overall 20-win season in the last five years. He also produced seven rebounds a game, 6.3 assists, 1.4 steals and shot an impressive 43 percent (42-for-97) from behind the 3-point arc.
Williams walks away from the program as its all-time single-season and single-game points leader.
“He hit some big-time shots for us,” Thomason said. “There would be some games where he had two or three people all over him and he still performed at a high level.  We played a lot of teams this year, and I didn’t see one guy better than him.
“It’s a testimony to the hard work he’s put in to improve since his sophomore year. He’s so smooth that it looks like it comes easy to him. He’ll be hard to replace, I know that much. ”
Asuncion guided Manteca to a 13-1 league season and 24-4 overall. Manteca advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time since 2000.
“It’s an honor, but I thought Scott Thomason did a great job over there at Sierra,” he said. “We obviously had a great team this year. I think Coach of the Year represents who had a great team.”
With two all-league first teamers on his squad, it’s hard to argue that point. If Williams was the best in the league, sophomore point guard Kiwi Gardner wasn’t too far behind. He averaged 19.8 points, six assists and 2.7 steals per game heading into Manteca’s first-round playoff loss to Oak Ridge, which yielded 36 points to the 5-foot-7 star.
Forward Nick Scheible worked on his perimeter game in the offseason, making the Buffaloes that much more difficult to defend. He averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“When you have players like that, obviously it makes things easier for a coach,” Asuncion said. “Kiwi is a great player that’s only getting better, and Scheible will be missed. I just wish Scheible was a junior.”
Joining them on the all-VOL first team are Sierra junior guard Trevor Nogueira, and Weston Ranch guards Derrick Sykes and Nate Moises.
Nogueira provided a solid complementary threat to Williams from the perimeter, hitting 37 3-pointers and scoring 10.6 ppg in league.
Sykes capped his senior season with 11.5 overall ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg and 2.5 spg — leading the Cougars (8-6, 13-14) in every category except rebounds. He was also named to the all-defensive team. Moises, a junior, finished with 11.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg.
The rest of Manteca’s starting five was honored, with senior forward Dominique Barnes (8.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Ernie Pimentel (11.1 ppg) making the second team; and LaRon Bennett earning all-defensive team recognition.
Sierra forward Serge Veretennikov earned honorable mention and was also selected to the all-defensive team. Also on the honorable-mention list are East Union junior guard Tyler Bylow and Ricky Inderbitzin, Sierra senior center Chris Choate and Weston Ranch junior forward Ronnie Collins.