Ripon Christian played its first game in six days on Wednesday and it showed in the opening minute.
The other 31 minutes belonged to the second-seeded Knights, who rolled past visiting California School for the Deaf 64-41 in the first round of the CIF Northern California Division VI Regional Championships.
Errant passes led to turnovers on Ripon Christian’s first two possessions, and the No. 7 Eagles (24-7) from Fremont took their first and only lead when Enos Zornoza knocked down a jump shot from the right elbow.
The Knights (24-7), who captured their 11th Sac-Joaquin Section title last Thursday, Feb. 27, responded with 14 unanswered points as they took over on both ends of the floor with their considerable advantage in height.
“We had a little layoff, and after a landmark like league and then section you take a breath,” Ripon Christian coach Mark Hofman said. “We started this in late October and here we are in March. We weren’t real sharp and it was kind of a sloppy game, but we played through it.”
CSD didn’t have an answer for cousins Jacob and Braden Van Groningen and 6-foot-7 center Reek Van der Hoek.
Jacob Van Groningen finished with a game-high 22 points and six rebounds, while Braden scored 16 points while snagging 10 boards. Van der Hoek contributed six points, all in the first half, along with eight rebounds, but he was able to change a lot of shots with his reach.
Ripon Christian secured 36 rebounds against just 15 for the Eagles to help it overcome Ripo20 turnovers.
“After our first timeout our coach told us we need be more energized out there, stop playing timid and start playing our brand of basketball,” Jacob Van Groningen said. “We started knocking down a few shots, gained some confidence and got the crowd going. Everything was rolling our way after that.”
Miles Gonzales led CSD with eight points. The Eagles had field-goal droughts lasting three-plus minutes in every quarter. They trailed 36-17 at halftime after Ripon Christian reserve Jeriah Hoag drilled an off-balance floater from the free-throw line at the buzzer.
Down by 26, CSD ended the third quarter on a 13-2 run. The Van Groningens helped the Knights restore order early in the fourth, combining for six points in an 11-2 flurry.
“I want to play 110 percent every night,” Jacob said. “Every game from now on could be my last game, so I want to go out there and give it all I got.”
Ripon Christian next welcomes No. 3 Fall River (24-6) of McArthur in the semifinal round on Saturday. The Bulldogs knocked off No. 6 St. Bernard’s of Eureka, 60-49.
“Now there isn’t much season left, so I think we’ll come out and play hard on Saturday and be a lot more focused in practice,” Hofman said. “Whoever we’re playing, it’s going to be a much tougher game so we’re going to have to play better and I think we will.”