As long as tournament host Ripon Christian had ball-handling problems Thursday night, the Knights’ game with Millennium was close.
Once Ripon Christian got a handle on the ball, things were no longer close.
The Knights turned the ball over six times in the first period and led the Falcons by just two points after the first quarter. Ripon Christian had only eight turnovers the rest of the way and doubled up Millennium 48-24 on the opening night of the Ripon Christian Tournament.
“Turnovers have been a struggle,” Knights coach Mike Vander Molen said. “And in the second half we did a much better job of not turning the ball over and limiting them to just one shot. It’s no mystery – take care of the ball and rebound.”
And rebound Ripon Christian (5-3) did, by a 3-1 margin. The Knights pulled in 45 rebounds to just 15 for the Falcons (3-6).
“We rebounded better than we have all year, which was good because we hadn’t done that all year,” Vander Molen said. “That kept us in the game the first half.”
Ripon Christian had just eight players suited up and all eight scored. Leading the very balanced Knights attack was Morgan Van Elderen with a double-double at 11 points and 14 rebounds with two steals and two assists.
“I was trying to speed things up too much in the beginning,” Van Elderen said. “We just needed to slow it down, control the ball better and find the open players.
“If we had to run through it a few times to get it, then that’s what we had to do.”
Lexi Hilvers nearly added a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds and thought her team was a little too impatient to start the game.
“In the beginning we were running our plays too fast,” Hilvers said. “The ball to us was like a hot potato — we just wanted to get rid of it as fast as we could.
“Then we started to slow it down and that’s when we found our pace and played our game.”
Ariel Vanderwoude and Mikaela Vander Molen scored all of their points in the second half, with Vanderwoude (six rebounds) getting eight points and Vander Molen (11 rebounds) netting five points.
Spunky Maliyah Hutchinson (seven rebounds, four steals) got all but five of Millennium’s points with 19 points.
Ripon Christian faces Argonaut of Jackson tonight at 6.