HILMAR — The Trans-Valley League boys basketball title is staying in Ripon, but it may be going across the street.
Ripon Christian has recaptured the lead going into the final week of the regular season, as it completed its season sweep of third-place Hilmar in dominating fashion, 73-45. Meanwhile, in-town rival and reigning champion Ripon left Hughson with a defeat that knocks it from the top spot.
Hilmar (6-4 TVL, 19-7 overall) boasts two close wins over Ripon but had trouble keeping up with the Knights (8-2, 19-6) in both of their lopsided contests. Ripon Christian rolled to a 30-19 halftime lead and ran away with it by outscoring the Yellowjackets 25-10 in the fourth quarter.
Coach Mark Hofman said Will Gilbert exemplified the team’s effort on both ends of the court. The junior guard finished with 23 points.
“Will Gilbert gave us great two-way play,” Hofman said. “He didn’t just lead us in scoring, he guarded their best player.”
Jacob Van Groningen and Braden Van Groningen contributed with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Will Tate scored 12 points for Hilmar, and Justin Barros had 11.
Ripon Christian isn’t in the clear yet before its regular-season finale at Ripon on Feb. 14. The Knights must first get past dangerous Riverbank next Wednesday, and a win would guarantee them at least a co-championship.
Hughson 68, Ripon 63
HUGHSON — The Huskies (4-7, 8-18) are playing spoiler for their TVL rivals, claiming their fourth straight win with Friday’s upset.
Junior guard Joshua Govett paced them with 27 points.
“Hughson came to play, you have to give a ton of credit to them,” Ripon coach Justin Graham said. “They are playing really good basketball right now, and Josh Govett is a really talented player.
“I don’t know if it was a hangover from last night (Ripon edged Escalon 70-68 on Thursday) or us looking forward to next week, but the bottom line is we didn’t bring it.”
Malik Taylor spearheaded the Indians with 20 points, Bronson Burrow collected 14 points and eight rebounds and Troy Brogan added 10 points and nine boards. Ripon struggled from the free-throw line for a second straight night, making 7 of 16.
Manteca 69, Kimball 61
The Buffaloes (6-4, 13-13 overall) are a step closer to clinching the Valley Oak League’s third and final postseason berth.
They had to weather the storm against Kimball (3-8, 11-16). The Jaguars shot 7-for-10 on 3-pointers in the opening quarter for a 29-16 lead but cooled off from there, while Manteca continued to work in the post.
Nick Bell led the Buffs with 20 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth, and Jordan Burciaga produced 19 points. Spencer Briscoe added 15. Sophomore Kobe Harris fired 24 points for Kimball.
Sierra 53, Oakdale 34
Kendrick Currey registered 17 points, and Sierra (5-6 VOL, 13-11 overall) got 10 from Zach Curry as it looks to secure an at-large playoff berth.
Jackson Holt scored 11 points for Oakdale (0-10, 11-14). The Timberwolves end the regular season against Weston Ranch next Friday, Feb. 14.
“We have five days to get ready for Weston Ranch and we know we’ll get a playoff-type game,” Sierra coach Eddie Morales said. “We’ll look to take full advantage of the opportunity and hopefully make a run.”
Ripon 70, Hughson 47
The Indians’ Jacob Wallace led all scorers with 24 points.
Ripon’s Nolan Young and Anthony Sausedo added 13 points apiece.