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Ripon coach steps down after loss

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Ripon coach steps down after loss

Ripon’s Kyle Sisk splits Bowie Wood (left) and Matt Dahl of Calaveras for a tough layup attempt.

POSTED February 22, 2018 1:27 a.m.

RIPON — Tenth-seeded Calaveras came out on fire Wednesday night with four first-quarter 3-pointers and then rode the hot hand of Dylan Autrey in the post to stun Trans-Valley League champion Ripon 68-55 in opening-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV basketball playoffs.  

The loss for Ripon (21-7) marked the end of Rod Wright’s run as the program’s longtime head coach. He will turn the reigns over to assistant coach and former Ripon standout Justin Graham next season. 

“I am going to just be an assistant next year,” Wright said. “I will still be here but he (Graham) is going to run everything. Being the (athletic director) full time is just too much.

“I have a very good coach (in Graham). You never look at something that is very good right in front of you and say no. When you have a guy that is more knowledgeable than you are, is a former player of yours and is teaching on staff, I have no problem sitting on the bench and being the old guy who talks to kids.”  

Standout post Vincent Olmo of Ripon was hobbled by a knee injury, as Calaveras (20-7) ran its lead to 18 points in the third quarter and stayed comfortably ahead.

“It’s something to win a playoff game on the road,” Calaveras coach Kraig Clifton said. “Especially against a team like Ripon. They are very good.”

With Olmo seeing limited action at best, Autrey was free to dominate in the paint and grabbed 13 of his 18 rebounds in the first half — with eight of those coming off the offensive glass — while pouring in 29 points to lead all scorers. 

Calaveras drilled nine 3-pointers to just three for Indians.

“He (Autrey) is a heck of a player,” Clifton said. “We have the capability to shoot 3s like that. We don’t shoot that well every night but we know we have the ability to do that. 

“Obviously, Dylan played really, really well, but with them paying attention to him that is what gave us the open shots and we were able to knock them down.”

Olmo (13 points, six rebounds, three assists and four blocks), who dislocated his knee in the regular-season finale against Hilmar, was able to play well in spurts, getting four blocks and three rebounds in the third quarter.

“I had to battle through the pain,” Olmo said. “Looking back at it, we had a great year. We went undefeated in league and won three games at the Modesto Christian Tournament, so we accomplished a lot this year.”

One of two seniors to routinely see significant playing time, Kyle Sisk (four rebounds, three assists and three steals) did the best he could to keep Ripon in the game, scoring eight of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter. 

“We were battling to the end,” Sisk said. “But Calaveras kept hitting their shots and we couldn’t come back on them. 

“We just couldn’t get a rhythm.”

In addition to hitting nine 3-pointers, Calaveras hit 7 of 10 free throws while Ripon was just 5 of 14 from the charity stripe. 

“Calaveras beat us,” Wright said. “They beat us and they beat us soundly. With all their 3-pointers it was tough for us to get a run. They played a textbook game and we did not. We took advantage of some of their miscues and score and they would come back and hit a 3. 

“The biggest difficulty for us was trying to deal with the fact that Vincent (Olmo) was hurt. It affected the whole team coming into the game. He was only about 50 percent of himself outside of a couple of times. I don’t know if he was full speed if we would have played better. Hats off to their No. 11 (Autrey) and them hitting their big 3-pointers.”

Wright is proud of his team’s accomplishments this season. 

“We can’t take anything away from our guys,” Wright said. “We won 16 in a row and we won a TVL championship, but the ball didn’t bounce our way in the first round.

“That’s just kind of the way it goes.”   

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