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Defense leads RC past Riverbank
Van de Pol scores 12 in Knights win
Daniel Vande Pol drives the baseline. - photo by BRANDON PETERSEN
RIPON — With Ripon High returning all of its key components and Modesto Christian playing in another basketball universe, Tuesday night’s Trans Valley League matchup between Ripon Christian and Riverbank projected to be a pivotal league contest in terms of league and postseason positioning.

If that notion holds true then the Knights are sitting pretty after Game 1, a 53 - 43 home handling of the Bruins.
Defense was the name of the game for the Knights, as RC held Riverbank to 11 combined points in the second and third quarters and feasted at the free-throw line in the fourth to cruise to the win.

“Two teams with similar records, we figured it was going to be close,” RC head coach Ron Vander Molen said. “The key for us tonight was the defense. We found a defense that worked and mixed up the zones a bit.”

With Tyler Goslinga patrolling the paint, RC used an effective 2-3 zone and dared the Bruins to shoot it.

Eric Page made the Knights pay in the first frame, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers from the right side and taking a brief 16-14 advantage into the second quarter.

But the Knights battened down the hatches in the second, allowing just three Bruin points while Arie Den Dulk scored six and Clayton Prins capped the frame with a 3-pointer off an Daniel Van de Pol assist for a 26-19 lead heading into the locker room.

“Clayton was having a good week in practice,” Vander Molen said. “He did a really solid job. He’s always been solid defensively, but he’s looking to score some and that’s a bonus. Having Clayton and Arie come off the bench and give us a lift is big.”

Steve Vander Molen (8 points) hit another trey at the 4:29 mark of the third to give RC its biggest lead of the night at 34-19.

The Knights enjoyed balanced scoring up and down the lineup, with Van de Pol leading the way with 12.

Goslinga hit for 11, Prins had seven, Den Dulk finished with six and David Vander Schaaf had five.

“Some guys were off and some guys were on, Riverbank’s defense will do that to you,” Vander Molen said. “I thought Steve came through with enough offense to keep it balanced. Against Riverbank, you have to take what they’ll give you. They weren’t giving us much, but we got just enough. I told them, ‘When you can get into the 50’s against Riverbank, you’re doing okay.’”

The Bruins (15) actually hit one more field goal than the Knights did on the evening, but RC made its living at the line, finishing with a 22-of-32 clip.

The Knights hit 14 of 21 free throws in the fourth, accounting for all of RC’s points in the frame.

The Bruins finished the evening 9 of 11 from the stripe.

“When you look at the standings, in the end, it’s going to be between us, Riverbank and Hughson to get that third spot and try and knock off Ripon,” Vander Molen said. “I think Ripon’s got to be the favorite for second place. But we’ve got to take care of Riverbank and Hughson, especially at home.”

Donovan Wallace paced the Bruins with 13.

Zack Gonzales had 11.

RC (1-0 TVL, 10-7 overall) hosts Escalon Friday.