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BASKETBALL: Streaking Ripon tames Tigers in tune-up for big game with RC
Los Banos-Ripon boys basketball
Ripon’s Logan Gillespie (33) puts up a shot against Caleb Robertson (3) of visiting Los Banos on Monday. - photo by GARY JENSEN/

Ripon is hitting its stride in time for its anticipated cross-town confrontation with Ripon Christian.

On Monday, the Indians took care of Los Banos 55-35 in a non-league contest at North Gym for their sixth straight win. It may be a surprising result to some, by just taking a glance at the records.

The visiting Tigers are still sitting pretty at 11-4 and should have some say in the Western Athletic Conference. Meanwhile, Ripon improves to 8-11 but has come a long way to get to this point. Ripon navigated through a tough start to the season in which some of its top players arrived late from football while the young fill-ins were thrown the wolves against stiff competition.

The team is now better for it, and at 4-0 in the Trans-Valley League the Indians are ready to resume their defense of the co-championship shared with RC. The two tangle Thursday at North Gym.

“That’s something that as a school and as a program we’ve prided ourselves on, which playing a tough schedule regardless of the kind of guys we have,” Ripon coach Justin Graham said. “We want to challenge ourselves, and sometimes record-wise that doesn’t really pay off. We’re more worried about the process of getting better, and you only get better by playing better teams. Our goal is to get better to compete for a TVL championship and hopefully do something special in the playoffs.”

Logan Gillespie headed a balanced scoring effort against Los Banos, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds. Sophomore Ty Herrin gave the Indians a spark off the bench with his energy, adding five rebounds and three steals.

Ripon got more than enough production from 6-foot-4 forward Nolan Young and 6-7 Bronson Burrow, who had to work through a crowded key in Los Banos’ 2-3 zone defense. Young chipped in eight points and eight rebounds, while Burrow added eight points and 11 rebounds.

Angel Resendiz led Los Banos with 11 points, accounting for three of the team’s seven 3s. Kayson Welch (two points, seven rebounds, four assists) and 6-6 reserve William Hoyle (four points) did what they could to neutralize the Indians’ size advantage and were outrebounded 36-23.

Ripon played tentatively to start against the zone defense. Los Banos shot out to a 5-0 lead before the Indians answered with a run of nine straight points and didn’t look back. Their 26-17 advantage at halftime sprouted from there, as they outscored the Tigers 22-12 in the third quarter. Ripon went on an 8-0 run over a torrid 1-minute, 35-second stretch highlighted by two backcourt steals leading to easy layups.

The Indians had better ball movement in the third quarter than they did the entire first half and routinely attacked the basket. After recording just one assist in the first half, they had seven in the third period.

“We didn’t really make too many adjustments at halftime, honestly, we just made some shots,” Graham said. “Early in the first half we had some good looks, we just missed. I think the only adjustment we made was we asked the guys to be a little bit more aggressive attacking off the dribble through the zone and that led to some layups and assists.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of zone lately, so I think our guys are getting more and more comfortable against it.”

Now, the Indians get to see what Ripon Christian has up its sleeve.

“We’re excited. Ripon-RC is always fun no matter what the records are. It could be ugly game sometimes, but it’s a lot of fun.”