ESCALON — Twenty-point leads aren’t safe when Escalon and Ripon get together for their Trans-Valley League confrontations.
“It was your typical Escalon-Ripon game,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said Tuesday night.
And, true to form, it was a wild one.
The host Cougars led by 20 at one point in the third quarter but held on to win 77-69 and complete the season sweep. It marks the first time since 2011 that either team swept. Their next five meetings were won by the visitors, and the Ripon (3-4 TVL, 5-16 overall) nearly continued that streak Tuesday.
Chase DePrue, who sparked the Indians’ second-half comeback with his play on both ends of the court, cut the deficit to three with 1:02 left in the ballgame. Escalon (5-2, 10-11) made seven of 12 free throws to seal it.
The Cougars were paced by Owen Pangilinan’s 22 points and Ben Hood’s 20 points and nine rebounds. Marvin Lawrence added 15 points while accounting for four of his team’s six made 3-pointers. Stephen Silveira chipped in nine points and 13 boards.
Escalon led 43-27 at halftime and was powered by a 31-point outburst in the second quarter. A late 10-0 run was capped by Pangilinan’s layup off an alley-oop feed from Thomas Diniz.
“When we went into the locker room coach told us this was a playoff game and this was one we needed,” DePrue said. “We knew we needed to get our heads straight and turn it up a notch and that’s what we did. We raised our intensity and things just kind of clicked.”
DePrue made several tough baskets in traffic and scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half. He also finished with eight rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Escalon had no answer for Derek Hickman, Ripon’s 6-foot-7 center, other than to get him into foul trouble. Hickman pumped in 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Indians but fouled out with 1:30 remaining.
Ripon had four players foul out and another was ejected.
“It hurts to lose players like that but we have to fight through it,” DePrue said.
They just didn’t have enough fight left in them in the final minute.
“It was physical, they got after it and they played hard,” Wright said. “I was pleased with our guys. It came down to a point where we just needed a final run, but credit Escalon for making the free throws to seal it off.”
Escalon made Ripon pay at the free-throw line, though it missed more than the Indians attempted. The Cougars were 31 of 51 from the stripe, while Ripon made 14 of 18.
Ripon Christian 68,
The Knights (7-1, 15-4) can now shift their focus on a big two-game road stretch involving first-place Mariposa and third-place Turlock Christian after drubbing visiting Waterford (2-6, 5-14).
Ripon Christian opened with a 22-7 first quarter and held the Wildcats to just five and two points in the final two periods, respectively.
Sean Broker turned in 19 points and nine rebounds in three quarters. Danny Vander Molen contributed 12 points and five assists, and Austin Alger fired 11 points. Jake Schollenberg grabbed 11 rebounds, while Eric Broker had nine.
Ripon 63, Escalon 51
In Escalon, Ripon trailed 16-5 after a quarter of play but bounced back in a big way behind Aaron Paschini’s sterling offensive effort.
Paschini scored all 14 of the Indians’ third-quarter points and their first 21 in the second half before finishing with 27. Cody Haines and Andrew Wood tallied nine and eight points, respectively.