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1,550 miles to glory for 1988 RC boys

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Standing under the 1988 state championship banners were coaches and players for the teams 25 years ago that won the boys and girls basketball titles for Ripon Christian High. The teams were honored...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 29, 2013 12:43 a.m.

In 1988, Ripon Christian High boys and girls basketball teams played, respectively, Calipatria and Avenal for the California State Division V titles.

Both championship games were played at College of the Canyons in Valencia. At RC, school closed early, thus, allowing 157 students to make the long drive south on Highway 99 in time for the 2:45 p.m. tipoff for the girls game.

The Knights (27-1) defeated Avenal (25-4), 25-36.

In the boys game – this was the first year of the 3-point arc – RC (26-8) needed to pull out a thrilling victory over Calipatria (23-6) in extra sessions. Mike Vander Molen purposely missed a free throw in order to set up the big trey that sent the game into overtime.

The Knights went on to win, 67-63.

The teams from the historical 1988 season were honored in a 25th anniversary observation Saturday when the Ripon Christian boys’ basketball team hosted Ripon High on Saturday.

The following are some observations of the 1988 season by the coach and several players of the boys’ teams. Information on the girls;’ team will appear Wednesday in the Bulletin.

By Coach Ron VanderMolen

Ripon Christian High 1988

“Describing that year is easy but explaining it is more difficult. Our fans may take a stab at doing both, but they all will assure us it was exciting!

“PRE-SEASON: As usual, we played large area schools in order to prepare for the TVL, to which we had been assigned after Southern and Golden Valley League successes. We took our licks in preseason. TVL – We gained a first place tie after a great deal of success in league, though in previous TVL seasons we usually were in second place. We typically qualified for playoffs, since first and second place teams went to playoffs in those days.

“SECTION: We were successful in Section until the final game, which was against Central Catholic. We led with two seconds left and were at the free throw line. For some reason the clock was not started after the missed free throw, so following a dribble, a pass and another (all in two seconds) we were defeated by a half-court three pointer. Though unhappy, we still qualified for state playoffs.

“THE 1,550 MILE TRIP: Richmond, Loyalton, Arco, Valencia. In each game we were the underdog, but in each game someone came through to produce very well: Steve VanderVeen against University; Mike VanderMolen against Loyalton; Mark Hofman and Mark Vos at Arco in an overtime win against College Prep. In all those games Kevin den Dulk stopped top rated centers; Mike VanderHoek and John Bos did solid rebounding; Phil Witt gave critical help on defense. Along the way several JV players and their coach Jim Schuller helped with practices and filling in as substitutes.

“THE SHOT: Did you ever see a person miss a free throw on purpose and then shoot a three to tie or win a game? If you were in Valencia for the state championship against a talented Calipatria team, you saw Mike VanderHoek get the required rebound and Mike VanderMolen miss on purpose and get the 3 pointer for an exhausting, unbelievable victory! Go Knights!

“Describing is not too difficult, but explaining it is. There are many factors: being in Division V for the first time; 3 point shots for the first time; intelligent players who learned a variety of defenses and offenses, the list could go on. But Mike VanderMolen put it best: “It was meant to be!” Congratulations to Boys’ California State Division V Champions on your 25th Anniversary Year, 2013! May you always be thankful to and be blessed by God.”

By Player Mark Vos

Ripon Christian High 1988

“Most striking memory was the level of scouting Coach did. During our playoff run we knew everything there was to know about the opposing team. Each player’s strengths and weaknesses (very detailed), how they ran their offense, all their out of bounds plays (by name), and where the weak spot of the defense could be found. We felt prepared and confident going into every game. I’m still confused how we won most of these games but his prep was definitely a key component.”

By Player Mike VanderMolen

Ripon Christian High 1988

“Just a few things I remember about playing for my Dad were:

• 1. No girlfriends (he tried)

• 2. No snow skiing during the season (snowboarding hadn’t been invented yet)

• 3. Friday night Nor Cal Semi finals we drove seven hours to Loyalton, he made two players cry at halftime, we won, got home after midnight and played at Arco Arena around noon the next day.”

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