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Ripon dispatches Sierra in reunion of head coaches
GBSK--Ripon-Sierra pic 3
Natalie Dias (30) pulls down the rebound for Sierra in front of teammate Brittney Spivey (44) and Ripons Mia Van Lewen and Becky McConahay (13). - photo by Photo By Sean Kahler

Rick Inderbitzin was in his final year as head coach of the East Union girls basketball team the last time he was on a basketball court with Larissa Founts-Bergerson, then a senior starter on the squad.

That was back in 2005.

They were reunited Thursday as opposing coaches of different schools.

Anchored by the inside-out play of Reina Sausedo and Mia Van Lewen, Ripon rolled to a 50-43 win at Sierra to improve to 5-0. Inderbitzin’s Indians led by as much as 15 in the fourth quarter before the host Timberwolves (3-4) closed on a 9-1 run.

“Beating Sierra is a nice accomplishment for us because of how hard they play and how well they’re coached,” Inderbitzin said. “She does a good job with the kids. They respond to her energy and her passion for the game. That’s how she played basketball and it has carried over onto their team. They’re going to be better. The Valley Oak League better be awake because they’re going to compete in every game.”

Only four Ripon players scored, but others found ways to impact the game. Sausedo finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals, while Van Lewen poured in 18 points to go with seven rebounds. Sophomore Tianna Sidtikun added nine points, four rebounds and five steals. Janessa Inderbitzin blocked four shots.

“It was just there for them tonight,” coach Indertbizin said of his offensive standouts. “We have other people on our team who can score on a given night. Sometimes they’re on and sometimes they’re not, but it’s nice to have players who can step up and score like that when we need it.”

Reserve guard Mia Culver made a big play that sparked a staggering run for Ripon. After making the first of two free throws, she rebounded her own miss on the second attempt and dumped it off to Sausedo as the Timberwolves scrambled to get to their spots defensively. Sausedo then found Sidtikun open on the wing for a 3-pointer. The sequence jump started an 8-0 flurry that pushed Ripon’s lead to 37-23. 

“I thought it was a good team effort,” Inderbitzin said. “We were able to put some things together.”

Sierra fell behind 17-6 early while playing through a 5-minute, 47-second scoring drought ended by Raiann Prieto’s runner in the lane early in the second period. The Timberwolves managed to stay in the hunt and trailed 24-18 by halftime thanks to their activity on the boards. They outrebounded Ripon 26-18 in the opening half, with 18 of them coming off the offensive glass.

Senior guard Jasmin Correa exemplified her team’s hard work in the paint, coming up with 11 total rebounds to go with five points and three steals.

“You can’t teach heart — you either have it or you don’t,” Founts-Bergerson said. “With Jas, I put her down low because she gets as many rebounds as our posts, and she’s like 5-foot-2. She holds her own down there.”

Freshman reserve Jordan Hayter paced Sierra with 10 points, all coming in the second half. She also drained three 3s. Dolce Cruz was also key off the bench, contributing eight points and four offensive rebounds. Natalie Dias chipped in eight points and six rebounds. 

The first-year Sierra coach enjoyed matching wits with her former mentor.

“We go to the same church, we do a lot of the same things and we love what we do,” Founts-Bergerson said. “I have so much for all those guys, but of course we’re competitive as heck. This stings a little.”