The thought of Ripon and Riverbank meeting in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal would have been unfathomable at the start of the season.
“If you asked me at beginning of season? No, not a shot,” said Ripon head coach Rod Wright, whose Indians stunned second-seeded Bret Harte of Angels Camp 52-46 in the second round on Friday.
Ripon and Riverbank split their Trans-Valley League contests, with the home team winning each.
“Now we get to do it at a neutral site,” Wright said.
The semifinals are set for next Wednesday at Lodi’s Tokay High, with the all-TVL shodown tipping off at around 9 p.m. Three out of the four semifinalists are TVL members, as conference champ Modesto Christian takes on No. 5 Calaveras at 7:30.
Based on seedings, Ripon (17-12) checked in at No. 7, the Indians’ win over Bret Harte is considered an upset. But they beat the Bullfrogs 56-52 at their own Ripon Holiday Hoops Classic, so they at least expected to be competitive — even in hostile territory.
The two losses to Ripon bookended a 19-game winning streak for Bret Harte (23-4), champion of the Mother Lode League.
Wright called Friday’s effort “a team win.” Standout center Jake McCreath was ailing from a bruised leg, while guards Josh McCreath and Cole Herrin were playing through illnesses.
Herrin finished with 16 points, while the McCreath brothers each turned in nine. The play of Conner Jones, who scored five of his 11 points in the fourth, and Greg Taylor keyed the win.
“Conner and Greg stepped up big,” Wright said. “They all had to play well for us to win, and they did.”
Dan Radford and Tyler Evans fired 20 and 15 points, respectively, to lead Bret Harte.