SACRAMENTO — After trailing by 14 points midway through the fourth quarter, Ripon Christian valiantly battled back to within six points with 1:02 left in the game on Jessica Van Vliet’s free throw, but the Knights would not score again and lost 52-43 to Capital Christian-Sacramento in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game at Sleep Train Arena.
The big difference in the game was the physical, trapping full-court press employed by the Cougars (18-11), forcing Ripon Christian (16-8) to turn the ball over 34 times.
“We knew their quickness was going to be a problem,” Knights coach Ed Mulder said. “We have seen a trapping defense like theirs before — Hughson runs one like it — and the trap was what kept us out of our game.”
One of the few things Capital Christian did not have an answer for was the size of Pamela Radach. When Ripon Christian could get the ball to her underneath she did not miss, going a perfect 6 for 6 from the field to lead the Indians with 12 points. Unfortunately for Ripon Christian, Radach fouled out in the closing seconds of the third period.
“And it hurt when Pamela Radach got in foul trouble,” Mulder said. “That was a big one because they really didn’t have an answer for her.
“All in all I was happy, but that pressure was tough. We made a nice run to within six, but we couldn’t get any closer.”
Radach’s 12 points came in just 11 minutes, 25 seconds of playing time.
“It can get rough out there with people always pushing you,” Radach said. “But you have to push past it and go for it.
“My teammates made some amazing passes inside with Ellen (Blankers), Elisabeth (Regusci) and (Jessica) Orozsco fed me quite a few passes.”
Blankers had five assists and five rebounds and was awarded the Sac-Joaquin Section Sportsmanship award.
“We haven’t made it since 2003 so this is a big accomplishment for our team,” Blankers said. “I am really happy we could give this to Ed (Mulder) because he has been waiting a long time and we finally made it.
With Radach spending a good amount of time on the bench due to foul trouble, Carly Tillema (six points) stepped up defensively and pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds and had a game-high six blocks. Regusci contributed 11 points.
“I am proud of us and getting to Sleep Train Arena,” Regusci said. “It was a big accomplishment for us.
“But I think Capital Christian may have out-hustled us a bit at times – they are a quicker-paced team and it is too bad we could not match their pace, but I am proud of the way we stood together and had good teamwork all the way through.”