HILMAR — Ripon’s boys basketball team was 5 minutes away from creating separation from itself and the rest of the pack in the Trans-Valley League on Friday.
Then the Indians went ice cold, while Hilmar finished the game with 18 unanswered points to prevail, 72-71.
The Yellowjackets (6-2 TVL, 19-5 overall) completed their regular-season sweep of Ripon (6-2, 12-12) with the stunning comeback, and the two teams are even at the top of the standings. Idle Ripon Christian is a half game back with Escalon and Riverbank also within striking distance.
“Hopefully we can bounce back,” Ripon coach Justin Graham said. “It’s anyone’s league”
The Indians led for most of the game and widened the gap to 71-54 on Nico Ilardi’s 3-pointer. Michael Flanery and Aidan Azevedo each drilled a 3 to help Hilmar inch back, and Will Tate made a put-back layup that pushed the home team ahead for good. Ripon had opportunities to win it in the end but was off the mark on two jumpers.
Malik Taylor paced Ripon with 27 points, Troy Brogan contributed 12 and Ilardi finished with 10.
“It was a roller coaster,” Graham said. “Hilmar battled back and hit big shots again, just like they did against us at our place.
“For us, it was a team effort. Had some turnovers, gave up offensive rebounds, missed defensive assignments and some bad coaching, if I’m being honest. We have some work to do.”
Ripon has three games next week starting with dangerous Riverbank on Tuesday.
Ripon Christian 83, Cornerstone 61
ANTIOCH — The Knights (16-6) had their way offensively against the reigning CIF Northern California Division VI Regional champion.
They jumped out to a 16-5 lead and rode the hot hands of Will Gilbert and Jeriah Hoag, who combined for 11 3-pointers. Gilbert finished with 22 points, while Hoag made five of those 3s for his 15 points. With the junior guards doing the damage from the perimeter, Braden Van Groningen dominated in the paint with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Cornerstone (17-6) was headed by Ezra Hunter III’s 24 points.
Kimball 71, East Union 70
TRACY — The race for third place and the final postseason berth in the Valley Oak League just got tighter as Kimball (3-6, 11-14 overall) held on for the needed win.
The visiting Lancers (4-5, 13-12) came up short despite 23 points from Christian Cuevas and 22 from Lydell King. They hit three and four 3s, respectively.
Sierra 60, Central Catholic 48
On Thursday, the Timberwolves (2-7 VOL, 13-11 overall) went on a 6-0 run to start and kept their distance the rest of the way as they went on to avenge a one-point loss to Central Catholic nine days prior.
Brianna Parker amassed 25 points, and Marci Chaparro contributed 13.
Ripon 47, Hilmar 37
The Indians ran their TVL record to 7-1.
Nolan Young led Ripon with 10 points and Anthony Sausedo added nine points.