Rivals stand as equals in the Trans-Valley League.
Juniors Malik Taylor and Braden Van Groningen have split the MVP award after leading their teams to the co-championship. Taylor was a big reason why Ripon (9-3 TVL, 15-14 overall) was able to force the title share, starring in the 70-64 win over Van Groningen's Knights of Ripon Christian (9-3, 26-7) on the final night of the regular season.
Also sharing an award are Ripon's Justin Graham and Ripon Christian's Mark Hofman, the Co-Coaches of the Year. It's the second straight Coach of the Year honor for Graham.
Ripon swept its neighbors for the season to claim at least a piece of its fourth consecutive league crown. Ripon Christian, meanwhile, went on to capture the program's 11th Sac-Joaquin Section title and fourth California Interscholastic Federation NorCal regional championship.
Brenden Holmes, also a junior, helped resurgent Escalon (7-5, 17-12) finish in a third-place tie with Hilmar (7-5, 20-9) in what was arguably the most competitive season in the TVL in recent memory. Holmes (19.6 points, 7.1 rebounds) was named Most Outstanding Player.
Taylor had a breakthrough second season for Ripon at the varsity level. He paced the Indians with 18.8 points per game but had his best performance in the TVL finale against visiting Ripon Christian. The 5-foot-10 guard tallied a varsity career-best 34 points, making four 3s.
That more than made up for missing most of the first meeting with the Knights when he went down with an early ankle injury with zero points.
Van Groningen also made up for lost time — even more so. A key role player on the SJS Division VI championship team as a freshman, he missed his entire sophomore campaign with a shoulder injury. The 6-4, 220-pounder had his way in the paint while extending his range out to the 3-point line, averaging 15.6 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field and 37 percent from behind the arc.
Two of his finest moments came in the biggest games for RC. Van Groningen scored a season-high 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the SJS Division VI final against Stockton Christian, and in the NorCal championship at Weed he amassed 26 points and 19 rebounds.
Ripon and Ripon Christian each had two players make all-league and another two earned honorable mention. All-league selections for a second consecutive year are Ripon senior Nico Ilardi (8.8 points, 2.6 assist) and RC junior Will Gilbert (13.4 points). Also making the cut are senior Jacob Van Groningen (10.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals), the Knights' versatile 6-4 wing, Ripon and 6-7 sophomore center Bronson Burrow (10.4 points, 7.9 rebounds).
Ripon senior power forward Troy Brogan, previously a two-time all-league selection, received honorable mention along with junior teammate Brayden Haines and Ripon Christian junior guards Caleb Terpsma and Lucas Van Groningen.
Co-MVPs: Malik Taylor, Ripon, Jr.; Braden Van Groningen, Ripon Christian, Jr.
Most Outstanding Player: Brenden Holmes, Escalon, Jr.
Coaches of the Year: Justin Graham, Ripon; Mark Hofman, Ripon Christian
All-league: Joshua Govett, Hughson, Jr.; Will Tate, Hilmar, Sr.; Will Gilbert, Ripon Christian, Jr.; Russell Weinbrecht, Escalon Soph.; Nico Ilardi, Ripon, Sr.; Aidan Azevedo, Hilmar, Sr.; Ty Luu, Riverbank, Sr.; Jacob Van Groningen, Ripon Christian, Sr.; Bronson Burrow, Ripon, So.
Honorable mention: Devon Del Toro, Livingston; Dylan Ruiz, Escalon, Sr.; Bryce Martin, Riverbank; Andrew Paolomino, Riverbank; Clayton Dowdy, Hughson, Sr.; Cooper Winton, Livingston; Lucas Van Groningen, Ripon Christian, Jr.; Caleb Terpsma, Ripon Christian, Jr.; Rittik Singh, Livingston; Brayden Haines, Ripon, Jr.; Gabe Fuller, Hilmar; Chase Fiveash, Hughson, Jr.; Troy Brogan, Ripon, Sr.; Justin Barros, Hilmar.