RIPON — While dominating in the paint all night Friday, Ripon Christian’s Braden Van Groningen and Reed Van der Hoek stepped it up defensively down the stretch to help the Knights to a 60-57 boys basketball win over visiting East Union to wrap up the Valley Oak League season.
After Will Gilbert (20 points) drove for a layup to extend the lead for Ripon Christian (7-3) with 1:54 left in the game, Van der Hoek (10 points, 10 rebounds, five blocked shots) stopped the next two Lancers possession with resounding blocked shots.
“I was told at the end to stay down and make sure they didn’t get any easy points,” Van der Hoek said. “I have always had the mentality to stay down low and make sure and secure the rim.”
In the final 45 seconds Van Groningen (17 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, two steals) notched a steal and an offensive rebound.
“We all try to crash the boards to create different opportunities for our team,” Van Groningen said. “If that means crashing the boards every single possession than that’s what we would do.”
Van Groningen had 10 of his 17 points on put-backs and finished with 11 offensive rebounds.
“Those are just hard-work points,” Van Groningen said of his second-chance baskets. “I see the ball go up, try to track it and get into position. Someone has to do the dirty work for the rebounds and our team as a whole fights for the ball. I think it is an all-around team mentality.”
Lukas Van Groningen added nine points for the Knights – all on 3-pointers – and Ripon Christian out-rebounded East Union (2-10) 41-25.
“We are a very good rebounding team,” Knights coach Mark Hofman said, “We work on it, we spend time in practice on post work and you always want to find what your strengths are and use it against your opponent. And that’s what we did.”
The Lancers had one last chance to tie the game. They forced a backcourt violation with 12 seconds left only to turn around 10 seconds later and give the ball back to Ripon Christian via another backcourt violation.
“We could have executed a little better down the stretch but in the end we gave it our all,” East Union coach Charles Legan said. “Every one of their guys is taller than our tallest guy. We couldn’t ask for much more effort.
“We left it all on the floor tonight. We played hard.”
Dylan Lee led the Lancers with 19 points and Bryan Howe added 18 points behind four 3-pointers.
Ripon Christian 42, East Union 38
Luke Crivello paced the Knights with 14 points and Derek Van Elderan added 10 points.
Antonio Yanez led the Lancers with 10 points while Ian Rodriguez and Ray Carson added nine points apiece.