Manteca High girls basketball coach Cody Norman searched the sideline and scorer’s table for scissors.
Courtney Range limped about the court in slippers, sweats and a black hooded sweater.
And Jessica Hasal, the fast-action junior guard, wore street clothes, cheering on her teammates during the pregame Senior Night festivities.
The Buffaloes’ coronation party got off to a subdued start and the pace never recovered as the three-time Valley Oak League champions cruised to a 44-28 victory over Oakdale.
The win polished off a 14-0 run through the Valley Oak League, but it was hardly a cherry-on-top performance.
Manteca (20-6) went more than nine minutes without a field goal, made 5 of 16 from the free-throw line and struggled to distance itself from an Oakdale team that has struggled throughout the campaign.
Once it was over, friends and family spilled onto the court, but there was no ceremonial cutting down of the nets.
Instead, the Buffaloes disappeared into the locker room.
Norman never did find those scissors.
Not that he cared.
“There was definitely a different vibe out there,” said Norman, a first-year coach. His championship follows the two annexed by former head coach Andrea Hiatt.
“It still feels like it’s not real, because the intensity was so low. You know, our boys are in Oakdale right now fighting and sweating for a victory to get into the playoffs. Over here, we’ve had it clinched for a while.”
Mikayla Hasal had a game-high 16 points for Manteca, which played its second straight game without the Cal-bound Range (ankle) and the younger Hasal (concussion).
The Buffaloes’ supporting cast picked up the slack early on. Jasmine Odell scored seven of her 12 points in the first quarter and Hasal knocked down a pair of step-back 3-pointers as Manteca raced out to a 19-4 lead.
Then the Buffaloes hit a lull, giving the Valley Oak League’s only winless team hope.
Oakdale (0-14, 3-23) opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run and held Manteca to just three points – all on free throws in the final two minutes.
“Oakdale came out,” Norman said. “We get everyone’s best game. Everyone wants to knock us off. They came out with a fire, but it was a steady fire. It wasn’t a punch, and our girls played into that.”
Christina Cobarruvias paced Oakdale with 11 points, while Janny Garcia finished with six.
The Lady Mustangs closed to within 22-12 at the half, but Manteca secured the victory with a 10-1 spurt to start the third quarter.
Oakdale’s junior varsity team won 56-49 after a 38-33 lead after three periods and capitalized on Manteca’s lackluster 7-for-27 effort from the charity stripe. The Mustang freshmen fell 51-29 to Manteca.
James Burns of the Manteca Bulletin contributed to this report.