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Indians knock off rival RC
Raelinne Witt and Lauren Feddersen battle for a rebound. - photo by HIME ROMERO
RIPON – Pretty it was not.

Ripon and Ripon Christian shot a combined 54 free throws and sent home just 23 field goals Thursday night at RC, but in a game between heated rivals, it stood to reason that both charity stripes would need a little touch-up paint afterward.

Although RC won the free-throw contest, sinking 18 of 28 attempts, Ripon led the contest from wire to wire and shot just well enough from the line (12 of 26) to pick up 42-38 win.

“We got in a funk, we missed some shots. Part of it was we didn’t get into a flow,” Ripon head coach George Contente said. “They were playing that zone. We hit some gaps; we just didn’t make the shots.

“Overall, we played hard. We overcame. We’re taking steps in the right direction. A win’s a win.”

Paulina Ceja (8 points) banked home a buzzer-beater at the end of the first to give Ripon a 15-8 cushion and the Indians extended their advantage to nine midway through the second with a Kaylee Goodwin layup.

But Kayla Evans responded with four straight free throws and a layup off a steal to pull RC within one at 22-21 with a minute remaining in the half.

“We just didn’t shoot well,” RC head coach Kirk Tillema said. “But I was proud of our effort. We talked about desire, and we haven’t always played that way, but tonight we saw desire. We hustled. We just didn’t make the shots when we needed to.”

Evans was money from the line, hitting 12 of 14 attempts, and finished with a game-high 14 on just one field goal.

“Their (free-throw shooting) was very good,” Contente said. “We have that hex against us, everyone shoots free throws well against us, and we can’t make as many as they do. We have to get our percentage up.”

The third quarter was spent almost exclusively at the stripe as only two field goals fell, a Kelsey Tillema layup from Raeline Witt and Kathryn Van Groningen jumper that made it 30-28, Ripon, with a minute left.

Despite a last-second flurry from Lindsay Hannick, who drained a layup then set up Tillema for another, Skye Dominguez’ layup plus the harm with 54 seconds left was the nail in RC’s coffin.

“This is a game we really wanted,” Tillema said. “Only playing twice now, we have to face Ripon at their place and that will be difficult. At least we have one more chance at them.”

Tillema finished with nine, hitting five of six free throws.

Dominguez and Kendra Contente scored nine apiece for Ripon, and Feddersen led the way with 12.

Jessica Blythe is set to return from a back injury Monday when Ripon (2-2 Trans Valley League, 9-12 overall) hosts Escalon.

“That will help us a lot,” Contente said. “Ball-handling. Rotations. That will be a big change.”

Ripon Christian (2-2 TVL, 8-9 overall) faces another tough task Monday when they head to Modesto Christian.