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Ripon Christian’s boys, girls teams are still dancing

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POSTED March 2, 2010 2:22 a.m.
Ripon Christian High’s boys basketball team is still in the big dance, as expected.
The school’s girls squad, in the meantime, is hoping the clock doesn’t strike midnight in its Cinderella run through the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.

Ripon Christian is one of just eight schools section-wide to have both of its boys and girls teams still alive this season.

With tickets to the California Interscholastic Federation Regional Championships (NorCals) already punched, both teams will now compete for a berth to the section’s title round tonight at Galt High.

The Division V girls semifinals tip off with the No. 1 Bradshaw-No. 5 Sacramento Waldorf game at 4 p.m. Eleventh-seeded Ripon Christian takes on No. 2 Turlock Christian at 5.

Ripon Christian’s second-seeded boys team will take on defending champion Bradshaw Christian, the No. 3 seed, at 7:30. The winner of that game takes on either top-seeded Victory Christian or No. 4 Valley Christian, which play at 9.

Ripon Christian’s boys team was expected to make it at least to the semifinal round, but the Lady Knights have exceeded expectations.

After crushing No. 6 Trinity Prep in Napa, 50-28, in the opening round, Ripon Christian’s girls (12-14) prevented third-seeded Wilton Christian from making its third straight trip to the finals by stunning the Patriots 51-43 in overtime at Elk Grove High last Thursday.

The Knights, remarkably, were able to do so with their top player, 5-foot-10 center Kelsey Tillema, fouled out of the game by the start of the fourth quarter.

RC is sure to be tested yet again by Turlock Christian (25-4), which knows what it’s like to not have its best player around.

Freshman prodigy Halie Bergman, a 5-9 guard, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in early January and is done for the rest of the season. She finished her rookie varsity season with 23.9 points per game.

That hasn’t stopped the Eagles from winning 14 of their 15 games since she went down, though. Turlock Christian has looked to 5-9 senior forward Amy Wright (10 ppg, 8.1 rpg), 6-foot junior post Kaisa Spycher (9.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg) and 5-9 junior wing Molly Farrar (9.3 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.8 spg) to share the load.

One of their losses this year was to two-time defending champion Bradshaw Christian, 56-47, in non-league action, and that was with Bergman healthy.

They also faced Ripon Christian early in the year, winning easily, 48-28.

But both teams are different going into tonight’s game. While TC dominated the Southern League for the championship, RC went 4-6 in the tougher Trans Valley League, which had three teams advance to the more competitive Division IV playoffs.

Tillema leads RC with 13.5 points and 10 rebounds per game, but fellow posts Mikaela Alger and Raeanne De Rousse and guard Amanda Boersma have emerged as solid complementary pieces.

Ripon Christian’s boys (21-6) have had little resistance so far in the playoffs, blowing out No. 15 Stone Ridge Christian, 66-31, and No. 10 Forest Lake Christian, 59-35.

Bradshaw (22-7), the co-champion of the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League, squeaked out a 62-59 win over No. 6 Brookside Christian last Friday and should provide the Knights with a stiffer challenge.

The Pride is versatile and athletic. Though it may not have the size to counter RC’s 6-8 standout center Tyler Goslinga (20.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg), Bradshaw isn’t necessarily small.

J.J. Mina, a stout post player at 6-5 and 225 pounds, averages 17.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.8 blocks to lead the Pride. Scott Ecklund, a 6-4 forward, records 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds.

Bradshaw also has potent guards in 6-2 senior Orion Kidd (13.4 ppg, 9 rpg) 6-1 junior Brady Dragmire (11.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg).

If the top-seeded teams of tonight’s boys games prevail, Victory Christian and Ripon Christian will meet at Arco Arena Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Division-V girls game is set for 4. RC defeated Victory 64-43 during the non-league season this year.
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