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Ripon goes down swinging in Sac

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POSTED February 27, 2014 12:32 a.m.

Ripon High’s 15th-seeded boys basketball team went down playing up to the competition Wednesday when the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs tipped off.

The Indians were within reach of No. 2 host Natomas of Sacramento in the final minutes, but the Nighthawks iced it with a 10-2 closing run for an 80-63 victory. Ripon (8-20) was trailing the Tri-County Conference champions by nine with 2:17 remaining.

“I felt like the seniors went out playing a very good game,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “They put it all on the line and played hard.  That’s what you want out of your seniors. I don’t want them to look back and say they could have given a better effort. Instead, they’ll remember that game positively.”

Senior center Derek Hickman finished with a game-high 23 points despite foul trouble. Natomas (16-8) capitalized late in the second quarter when Hickman sat with two fouls, going on a 13-0 run to lead 38-29 at halftime.

Freshman Mehki Williams accounted for 14 of the Nighthawks’ 18 points in the second quarter. He knocked down four 3-pointers total and finished with 22 points.

Wright described Natomas as “athletically physical.” Phillip Morgan, a gifted 6-foot-4 leaper, scored 13 points and had a alley-oop dunk on an inbounds play. Jaylen Manning also chimed in with 13 points, and Artell Smith turned in 16.

Seniors Brock Herrin and Chase DePrue tallied 13 and nine, respectively, for Ripon. Freshman guard Cole Stevens fired 10, but all of it came in the first quarter.

Natomas hosts No. 7 Mesa Verde on Friday.

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