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Buffs hold off Hawks
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Central Valley High School's varsity boys basketball team found itself down by double digits throughout its Valley Oak League contest against Manteca but wouldn't go away.

The Hawks ultimately fell short in their bid for a comeback victory with a 65-56 loss Friday night at Winter Gym.

"When a team can shoot like that, they're always in the game," Buffaloes coach Dave Asuncion said. "So I was nervous when we were up six points with over three minutes left. Two shots for them and they're right back in it."

"We didn't play bad," Central Valley coach Darryl Dickson said. "We hustled. We just didn't put points on the board in the inside. We didn't convert."

Yama Noorzai poured in a team-high 12 points for Central Valley, which dropped to 9-13 overall and 3-7 in the VOL standings. Trevor Mew added 11 points, while 6-foot-6 center Chris Beleele had 10 points and 15 rebounds -11 of which were muscled down on the offensive end.

Matt Gomez, Manteca's senior sparkplug, led all players with 19 points and three steals. Sophomore call-up Ernie Pimentel finished with four 3-pointers and 13 points for the Buffaloes (11-12 overall, 7-3 VOL), who boosted their playoff hopes by posting their fifth straight victory.

Central Valley lost despite limiting Manteca's top two players to a combined 13 points. Freshman guard Kiwi Gardner scored nine points, while junior post player Nick Scheible added four against the Hawks' triangle-2 defense.

"They had a good scheme," Asuncion said. "We had some (other) guys with wide-open shots, and they knocked them down."

Reserve Laron Bennett had Manteca's hottest hand in the opening quarter when he scored eight of his nine points.

The Hawks tallied eight unanswered points during a two-minute stretch in the third, and Noorzai's 3-pointer closed the gap to five, 59-54, with 2:06 to play.

The Buffaloes accounted for six of the game's final eight points. Pimentel's 3 from the corner with 1:21 left all but iced it.

"We had a couple of calls on us that stopped the momentum," Dickson said. "It's been a frustrating year. We're just not mentally tough like we need to be."

Manteca Bulletin contributed to his report.