RIPON – George Contente graciously accepted the praise of his colleagues, but believes they whiffed on Ruth Waters.
Contente was named the Trans Valley League’s Coach of the Year for a fourth time during a recent vote of the league’s coaches.
“I think it’s nice that they thought I did a good enough job to be Coach of the Year,” the Ripon girls basketball coach said. “It’s a tribute from your peers.”
Contente led the Indians to a 23-5 season that was highlighted by an improbable victory over Modesto Christian that netted the program a share of the TVL championship.
That victory wouldn’t have been possible, though, without Waters.
The third-year varsity guard was one of two Ripon players selected to the all-TVL first team. She was joined by forward Tia Sidtikun.
Contente’s beef: Waters deserved better; she deserved at least a share of the TVL’s top individual prize.
Waters averaged 13.8 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.8 steals.
Her signature performance came against the vaunted Crusaders, who had won 98 consecutive games before a 61-58 loss to the Indians. Waters had 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting. She also had six assists, eight rebounds and three steals.
MVP-caliber numbers, Contente points out.
Instead that honor went solely to Modesto Christian’s Lexi Tubbs, whose numbers were comparable.
Tubbs averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.5 assists.
“I was very surprised. I have no idea why that happened – it’s a secret vote,” Contente said. “She definitely deserved it.
“She was our everything. She could do anything on the floor – handle the ball, shoot and score and be a leader. Without her, we wouldn’t have gone as far as we did.”
Waters had some help.
Sidtikun’s emergence gave the Indians a heavy 1-2 punch.
She averaged 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds and scored more than 15 points in a game eight times. She had a season-high 21 in a 66-43 victory over Chavez.
“She came a long way with her ability. We saw it during the summer and it became evident during the season,” Contente said. “When people started double-teaming Ruth and we needed that other option, Tia stepped up big time.”
Haylee Fannin and Kelsey Alexander were listed as honorable mentions.