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Indians come up short of forcing overtime in final second

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Ripon guard Tim Groen attacks the basket as Escalon’s Lance Davis attempts to draw the charge.


POSTED January 30, 2013 12:22 a.m.

RIPON — Ripon High nearly pulled out a much-needed win with its top two ball handlers fouled out of the game.

Rival Escalon escaped enemy territory with a 57-56 victory after Ripon’s Curtis Azevedo missed the second of two free throws that would have tied it with a 10th of a second left in regulation. Escalon (4-4 Trans-Valley League, 13-10 overall) evened its season series with the Indians (4-3, 9-12), and both squads are fighting for a first-round playoff home game.

The possible game-tying sequence was helped set up by emerging junior Chase DePrue, who drew the Escalon defense with dribble penetration and dished it off to Azevedo in the low block. Azevedo’s floater from short range hit the front of the rim, but he was fouled on the play.

Azevedo hit all net on his first free-throw attempt, and Escalon called a full timeout in an attempt to ice him. His second try bounced off the rim, and the Escalon faithful flooded the court to celebrate with its players.

“It’s not his fault,” Ripon head coach Rod Wright said of Azevedo, a 6-foot-2 reserve who provided a defensive spark in the first half when the Indians struggled offensively. “He’s actually a decent free-throw shooter, but you never know. He had to stand around and wait to take his second one.

“It was a hard, physical aggressive game, and unfortunately we could not convert on some of our easy layups.”

DePrue willingly took some of the blame for the loss after “missing too many layups,” but he was instrumental keeping Ripon in the game. The Indians didn’t have a lead until Derek Hickman’s put-back made it 39-37 with 2:29 left in the third quarter, and they trailed by five, 54-49, when DePrue toed the free-throw line with 3:02 to go in the game. He sank both and had a hand in Ripon’s final seven points, including a key offensive rebound that led to Hickman’s layup and final the team’s final lead, 55-54.

DePrue ended up with 16 points and eight rebounds.

“I was realizing that time was winding down and somebody needed to step up,” DePrue said. “We were trying to get to the post but it just wasn’t working, so I told myself, “Chase you need to go the rack and make something happen.’”

Hickman, a 6-5 post, also came up big, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Kyle Wengel added 11 points, eight coming during the pivotal third quarter when Ripon’s top player, point guard Cole Herrin (6 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists), fouled out with still 4:43 left in the period. Tim Groen also fouled out

“I should have pulled Cole during the timeout (with 5:19 to go in the third),” Wright said. “We talked about it and we thought he could play through it because he always does, but that’s my fault.”

Ripon played well enough to steal a win in his absence, though, taking a 43-41 advantage into the fourth quarter.

“It affects us, definitely,” DePrue said. “He’s the best ball handler on our team, so it’s a lot more difficult not having him on the court. Our game just changed.”

Escalon was paced by Brian Gregorio’s 16 points and nine rebounds. Alex Von Alvenslaben managed to score 15 points despite a rare off night in which he was 4-for-12 on free throws.

Southern League

Ripon Christian 80, Waterford 42

Visiting Waterford (5-4, 9-11) didn’t score until hitting a 3-pointer from halfcourt as time expired in the first period.

The Knights (9-0, 17-4), who had five players in double figures, were up comfortably, 17-3. Danny Vander Molen, Jon Vander Molen and Eric Broker each poured in 15 points. Dan Vos added 11 points and 12 assists, and Travis Vander Molen contributed 10 points.

It was a nice bounce-back effort from Saturday’s 61-53 loss to nonleague rival Ripon.

“We came out and played real well after losing to Ripon,” RC coach Ron Vander Molen said. “They played angry.”

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