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Indians emerge from slump for charity game win

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East Union’s Alex Scopas (25) battles for the loose ball with Ripon’s Ruth Waters (11) during Saturday’s third annual “Hoops for the Cure Classic.”

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 6, 2013 11:18 p.m.

Ripon High’s girls’ basketball team busted out of its shooting slump in the 3rd Annual Hoops for the Cure Classic at East Union Saturday.

Ruth Waters led the Indians with 23 points and hit five 3s, while Tia Sidtikun added 19 points in their 63-37 victory. It’s the first win for Ripon in the “Play in Pink” series that raises money for breast cancer awareness.

Ripon, which improved to 11-3, came in averaging just 37 points in its last four — including Thursday’s 39-28 victory over Escalon in its Trans-Valley League opener. The Indians final broke through with their highest single-season point total of the season.

“It was really rewarding after all the hard work that we’ve put in,” said Sidtikun, who also had six rebounds, seven assists and three steals. “The shots were finally falling, that’s all it was.”

Much like the Escalon game, Ripon worked its offense masterfully and got the desired shots off whether EU was in man-to-man or in a zone defense. The difference was that the ball was falling through the hoop.

The Indians’ only struggles came during the final 4 minutes, 20 seconds of the second quarter. Leading up to that point they went on an 11-0 run capped by Kelsey Alexander’s jumper from just inside the 3-point line. That made it 28-11.

Enter East Union freshman Olivia Vezaldenos.

Alex Scopas jump started the Lancers’ 15-0 rally with a layup, and Vezaldenos did the rest. The promising point guard drilled three 3-pointers during her impressive run of scoring 13 straight points for East Union (5-8).

“I was just trying to keep my team in the game,” Vezaldenos said. “I was looking for my shot — I felt like I couldn’t miss.”

Ripon settled back into its groove in the second half while Vezaldenos and the rest of the Lancers cooled off. She finished with 18 points, but East Union was held to 11 total over the final two quarters.

“We changed our press a little bit and tried to get the ball out of her hands quicker,” said Ripon coach George Contente, an East Union alumnus.” She’s a good player, give her credit.”

Marina Salyer contributed 10 points for EU, and Alexander ended up with 10 for Ripon. Haylee Fannin helped spark Ripon defensively and chipped in with five steals.

Saturday also marked the final day that nonleague contests count against Sac-Joaquin Section playoff power ratings. But the game has much more meaning to East Union coach Jim Agostini, whose wife Leslie was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in 2009.

 The first two games drew over $10,000 and 100 percent of proceeds — acquired through gate costs, concessions and sponsorships — are donated to the local Triple Step for a Cure organization.

“The event is growing,” Agostini said. “I am thankful for George, his family, his basketball team and the Ripon community for joining this cause. You’ve got to have a lot of helpers to make something like this happen.”

As for Leslie, she has been cancer-free for the past few years.

“She’s doing wonderful, as healthy as can be,” Agostini said. “We are very blessed. We are fortunate about the support that we continue to get. This is a very good night.”


Ripon 32, East Union 20

Karisa Carlson paced Ripon with 10 points, and Zaire Davis added nine points to the cause. Anna Wood led East Union with eight points.


East Union 27, Ripon 24

Lindsey Jordan and Taylor Ward each had six points in a low-scoring but balanced effort for the triumphant Pages. Ripon was headed by Hailey Johnson’s 10 points.

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