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Ripon Christian facing familiar foe in Round 2

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POSTED February 27, 2009 5:35 a.m.
Ron Vander Molen has enjoyed watching his Ripon Christian Knights make great strides in the later stages of the season, but he’s hoping their best basketball is still ahead of them as they lock up with No. 4 Victory Christian in Carmichael tonight for a second-round Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff matchup.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
It’ll be a rematch between the fifth-seeded Knights (16-11) and Victory Christian (21-7), which was edged out 56-54 in their non-league meeting on Jan. 3.
The Vikings opened the postseason with an 84-33 thumping of Stone Ridge Christian (Merced), while Ripon Christian coasted past Millennium (Tracy), 84-50.
“It’ll be interesting,” Vander Molen said. “I think we’re playing a lot better than the last time we played them, so I like our chances. The kids have done a good job of figuring out what’s working in the game and executing.
“These last few weeks have been a lot of fun, I just don’t want the fun to end (tonight).”
As well as the Knights are playing of late, Vander Molen still expects the same type of battle that Victory Christian put up the first time around.
In that game, Victory Christian nearly led from wire to wire until Daniel Van de Pol dropped in the game-winning bucket as time expired.
Though that game took place at Ripon Christian, the Knights are still familiar with Victory’s home gym having played, and won, in the eight-team Viking Classic Tournament.
“I’m glad we’ve had three games at their place,” Vander Molen said. “It’s not a totally unfamiliar setting for us.”
Victory’s official roster may not indicate so, but it has the size in the post to bang with Knights center Tyler Goslinga, who stands at 6 feet, 7 inches while leading the team with 16.3 ppg and 8.9 rpg.
 The Vikings’ top two frontline players, Nathan Coppernoll (19.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Andrew Gillings (10.6 ppg) are listed at 6-1 and 6-2, respectively. Senior guard James Kuhle (12.7 ppg) is their main perimeter threat.
“I don’t think (Victory’s listed heights) are accurate,” Vander Molen said. “They’re bigger than that, and their big men will present a tough matchup for us.
“They don’t shoot a lot of threes. They take advantage of their post players and are more of a drive-and-dish type team.”
The winner will take on either No. 1 Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) or Big Valley Christian (Modesto) in the semifinals next Tuesday at Galt High.

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