Manteca 74, West 64

The West High boys basketball team is bringing a high-energy game to the start of their season.

Even though they fell 74-64 on Friday at Steve Thornton Gymnasium to a Manteca High team that nailed its shots and consistently outrebounded the Wolf Pack, the West players made it a back-and-forth contest well into the fourth quarter, when Manteca finally gained a solid lead at the end on a series of free throws.

“It was the first game of the season, and we were just ready to come out and win, because we didn’t have a winning record last year,” said senior Elias Woodward, starting his third year as a varsity player. “We just did all we could, but it didn’t fall on our side today.

“We expected them to get a lot of rebounds, so we just had to play our game with boxing out and getting in the right positions. It was difficult getting rebounds, but at some points we did get the rebounds that we needed.”

The Wolf Pack is mostly the same team as last year, but with a new coach in Scott von Stade and a few new juniors. Woodward said the main thing the Pack showed on Friday was an intense competitive drive.

“We’ve got a few pieces, but we’re just ready to win,” he said. “We’ve got a chip on our shoulder so we’re just ready for every team out there.”

Senior David Neal Hickman said he expected that Manteca would make it hard for West to drive up the court and get inside for shots.

“We knew they had a few tall players and good guards, so we were expecting to get a lot of press,” Hickman said, but he was also encouraged by his own team’s ability to move the ball quickly between players.

“We started playing as a team. It felt really good once we got out there. This group is really coming together,” he said.

After some initial back-and-forth at the start of the first quarter, the Manteca Buffaloes started hitting their outside shots, including four 3-point shots in the first quarter alone, and held a 25-20 lead going into the second quarter.

The Wolf Pack took charge at both ends of the court to start the second quarter with a 12-point scoring run. Woodward made the shot that gave West a 28-27 lead and senior Tony Walker sank two more buckets to put the Pack back in control.

The Wolf Pack had a 41-37 lead at the half, but Manteca chipped away at that lead and made a series of unanswered shots at the end of the third to lead 53-49 going into the fourth quarter. Manteca held the lead the rest of the way, though West was able to get within 3 or 4 points a few times before the Pack’s fouls gave the Buffaloes’ shooters — including senior Jordan Burciaga, whose game-high 29 points included 12 of 13 free throws — the chance to put the game out of reach for West.

Woodward was West’s scoring leader with 19 points, and he also had seven rebounds and four steals. Senior Jai Siller added 10 points, and all 13 players on West’s roster contributed, with 10 of the 13 scoring.

Contact Sports Editor Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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