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Ripon girls boast strong returning hoops line-up

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Ripon girls boast strong returning hoops line-up

Ripon's Kendra Contente fires off a three pointer during last season's crosstown game against Ripon Christian.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED November 30, 2010 2:21 a.m.
RIPON – Sometimes all it takes is a single year to transform the entire makeup of a basketball team.

While the Ripon Christian girls were led last season by five seniors, only three juniors were waiting in the wings to take over the program for new coach Ed Mulder. Four sophomores that were called up to the team last year will now represent the future of the program as it embraces the change of leagues from the Trans Valley League to the small-school Southern League.

The Ripon Indians, however, are facing a much different scenario.

After finishing last season 16-11 – with an 8-2 TVL record and a playoff berth – the Indians will turn to their seven returning players and tap the influx of talented sophomores that head coach George Contente hopes will enable the team to make a run at perennial league and Northern California powerhouse Modesto Christian.

With returning guard Kendra Contente, who averaged just under 10 points a game last season as a junior and nailed 30 percent of all shots taken beyond the three-point-arc leading the charge, Ripon will try to hone its skills against larger non-league opponents like East Union, Sierra, Manteca, and Lathrop during the run up to league action.

“We’re coming along right now, and while our program has been pretty good, there’s a still a lot of work left for us to do before we’re ready to conquer the goals that we’ve set,” Contente said. “We have a lot of girls coming back, and a lot of young talented players coming up, and we’re going to work to bring them up to speed.”

Helping Contente run the offense will be post-player Rachel Rodriguez, who led the team in rebounding last season with 163 and also blocked 17 shots. Kristy McCann, who will alternate between a guard and post position, provides flexibility both down low and in the corner. McCann racked up 56 assists last season and led the team in blocked shots with 21.

With its set on winning a TVL title, Ripon will also strive to make it past the first round of CIF Sac-Joaquin. After earning the 10th slot in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV power rankings at the end of last season, Ripon lost its opening round game against Bear River 57-36.

For Ripon Christian, junior Mikaela Alger – who averaged just under 8 points a game last year as a sophomore – will return as the team’s forward, while Raeann De Rousse and her six points a game on the post position will help the Knights establish an offensive presence as they try to improve from their 12-16 record last season.

While the team didn’t come close to winning a league title, the underclassman-heavy squad did post a stunning victory over third-seeded Wilton Christian during a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V second-round playoff game back in February.

Instead of having to face routinely solid TVL opponents like Modesto Christian, Ripon, and Hughson, the Knights will instead be taking on Turlock Christian, Delhi, Gustine, Le Grand, and Waterford in the Southern League – pitting them against schools similar in size but also taking away the familiarity they had with their past league opponents.

Their matchup against Turlock Christian, however, will be something that all of the returning players will be looking forward to.

Last year the Eagles dealt Ripon Christian a 55-45 defeat just one game outside of the Section Final against No. 1 seeded Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento. The squad did still earn a bid for the CIF Regional Championships (NorCals), but lost to the Head-Royce Jayhawks of Oakland in the first round.
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