After taking a commanding lead early and sustaining it through three quarters, East Union allowed a determined Ripon High group to the take advantage of Lancers’ lapses on offense and force overtime. East Union would take care of business at the free-throw line in overtime for the 59-56 win Friday.
Justin Nieto played an integral part in the Lancers escaping with the win, nailing a huge 3-pointer with 1:17 left in overtime for a four-point lead. Nieto would convert on a pair of free throws the following trip to put East Union up for good.
East Union took advantage of nearly every opportunity presented in the overtime period, especially from the free-throw line where the Lancers converted on seven of nine attempts.
“Free throws were huge in that game,” East Union head coach Brent Lewis. “They missed some early and we were able to make them when they counted. We had already lost one overtime game where we blew a 10-point lead and we didn’t want to do it again.
“I told our guys it’s gut-check time and we stepped up and started taking care of the ball when we had to.”
Ripon showed an abundance of resiliency, overcoming three separate double-digit deficits in the contest. The Indians opened the fourth quarter trailing 35-25, but used a valiant effort from Cole Herren to mount the comeback.
Herrin scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, giving the Indians the lead 46-45 with less than a minute remaining in regulation. East Union would tie it up on a Jake Danhoff free throw with :27.3 seconds and Ripon missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
“It was nice to get to OT,” Ripon head coach Rod Wright. “I just didn’t know what team we brought with us. We didn’t make our free throws down the stretch, but we did everything we could do to get back in the game.
“At the end we came back, and that’s what you want in a high school game.”
Nieto led the Lancers with 15 points and Brandon Cline added 11 on three 3-pointers. Ripon was paced by Herren’s 21 points and Kyle Wengal got hot late, finishing with nine points on three 3-pointers. Jake McCreath chipped in with eight.