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Ripon builds halftime lead, never looks back

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Ripon senior Matt Ratto avoids an Escalon defender during the Indians 67-52 win over Escalon Tuesday.


POSTED February 3, 2010 3:16 a.m.
RIPON – Once the tempo reached warp speed the Escalon High boys basketball team had no idea Ripon High was prepared to keep pace, as the Indians found the up-tempo pace rewarding in a 67-52 Trans Valley League win Tuesday.

Ripon (3-2 TVL, 11-11 overall) came into the matchup knowing its postseason aspirations would take a serious blow with a loss to the Cougars. The Indians responded, building a first-quarter lead behind the inside presence of sophomore Jake McCready and pushing it to 15 by halftime with clutch perimeter shooting.

“We know Escalon wants to play that up tempo game and we thought that we could play it better than they could,” Ripon head coach Rod Wright. “We know we have the shooters to be able to do it; we know we have the conditioning and the players to do it. We came in the game knowing what they wanted to do, so we wanted to embrace that and push the ball.”

The Indians pushed and pushed and pushed, outscoring Escalon (3-2, 14-8) 23-11 in the pivotal second period, while  holding the Cougars to just three field goals for the first five minutes of the quarter. Kody Wengel, Matt Ratto and McCreath all had multiple baskets in the quarter, with Ratto paving the way with a pair of 3-pointers.
The Indians had little security walking into the intermission with a 15-point lead, knowing Escalon had scored more than 60 points in four of its past five games. The double-digit lead just put a dangerous Escalon offense into urgency mode.

“With these guys you know they are going to run, so we just wanted to make sure we got back in that second half,” Ratto said. “On offense, we just had to slow things down for us. We were a little tired because of their press defense, but we just had to take care of the ball and I think we were able to do that.”

Escalon wouldn’t go easy, nibbling the deficit to single-digits, before Ratto converted the free throw on a three-point play to push the Indians back up by 11 with 39 seconds remaining in the third. Ripon opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers from Wengel and Ratto, leaving Escalon with too steep a climb.

Ratto led all scorers with 20 points, while Wengel added 17. Caleb Christian finished with 13. McCreath’s 11 points gave Ripon four players in double figures for the first time this season. Vincent Aufdermaur and Tyler Schuurman led Escalon with 14 points apiece.

Ripon will need to build on the victory Friday with a winless Hughson team paying the Indians a visit. Closing out the next four games within no more than one loss is the most likely way for the Indians to score a postseason berth.

“We’ll have to be at least 6-4, or 7-3 to make the playoffs,” Wright said of his team’s TVL record. “So every game now for us is a must-win game. The only game we can put to the side is the Modesto Christian game.

“Everybody else we have to fight all the way to the end.”

The Huskies and Indians are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
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