Ripon Christian boys basketball coach Ron Vander Molen employed various zone defenses with hopes of neutralizing visiting Riverbank’s speed advantage in their Trans-Valley League contest Tuesday.
But it wasn’t until the Knights went man-to-man that they were able to race away to a 55-45 victory. Ahead 39-38 with 4:27 left, Ripon Christian (2-0 TVL, 12-4 overall) switched to its man defense and it was enough to stave off the always-dangerous Bruins (1-1, 5-11). Danny Vander Molen was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line down the stretch to help RC gain distance.
“We thought we had to play zone because of their quickness,” coach Vander Molen said. “We’ve struggled with speed in the past against Liberty Ranch and El Camino (in nonleague games). Riverbank is not the kind of team that you want to fight from behind, and we were fortunate we had enough of a lead to play our game in the end.”
The game was tied at 20-20 at halftime.
Sean Broker paced Ripon Christian with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Danny Vander Molen ended up with 15 points and five assists. Travis Vander Molen added 12 points and nine boards.
Nik Keydeniers knocked down four 3s and finished with 14 points for Riverbank. Wolfgang Lopez (11 points) and Yili Lopez (10 points) joined him in double figures.
Ripon 56, Hilmar 46
Mario Roach knocked down two big 3s, igniting an 18-8 third-quarter run for the Indians.
Roach scored 10 of his 17 points in the third as Ripon (2-0, 11-8) shook off its early shooting woes and picked up a pivotal road victory in the TVL.
“In our league, it’s all about winning on the road,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “Every game is tough, nothing comes easy, and that’s what we expected going there.”
Ripon led 27-24 at the intermission, but pulled away thanks to second-chance points and the finishing ability by its top two guards.
Cole Stevens tallied a game-high 18 points, including 11 in the second half, and the Indians owned a 19-13 advantage on the offensive glass.
“We had good shots in the right places, but they just weren’t going in for us,” Wright said. “We controlled the offensive rebounds, so that helped us salt it away.”
Ripon travels to Riverbank on Friday, a final tune-up for its showdown with across-the-street rival Ripon Christian next Tuesday.