RIPON — Ripon has finally regained its championship form from a year ago, it just didn’t come soon enough.
The Indians came up short in their bid to repeat as Trans-Valley League champion but capped regular-season play Thursday with a decisive 58-42 revenge win over visiting Ripon Christian. They began with a 21-point outburst and led by as much as 25, 52-27, late in the third quarter.
Junior guard Reina Sausedo paced Ripon (10-2, 19-7) with 20 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Morgan Van Elderen tallied 23 points and three steals for the Knights (8-4, 17-9).
“We were rolling today,” Ripon coach Rick Inderbitzin said. “If we played more like that throughout the year, we’d be playing for a championship tonight.”
He described his team’s early-season struggles as a “roller coaster” as it worked in newer players while fourth-year forward Mia Van Lewen was brought along slowly as she recovered from a concussion sustained during the volleyball season.
Ripon finishes as the runner-up and one game behind TVL newcomer Livingston. The Indians enter the postseason winners of seven straight since their 50-46 loss to Ripon Christian on Jan. 17. The Knights snapped a seven-game skid against their rival with that win, which also knocked Ripon out of title contention.
“The first time we played them this year was actually the first time in my four years that we’ve actually lost to them,” Van Lewen said. “We knew we had to get them back and secure second place, so this was important for us.”
Van Lewen contributed 11 points and five rebounds and was one of two Ripon players honored for Senior Night. Rachel Sausedo, the other senior, knocked down a 3 at the end of the opening period for her only points.
“Our last game (against Ripon Christian) we played more like individuals and didn’t hit any of our shots,” Sausedo said. “Tonight we really came together a lot more focused.”
Bianca Toledo contributed 10 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Indians, and 6-foot sophomore Sydney Thomason pulled down nine rebounds — seven off the offensive glass.
The Indians eventually cooled off in the fourth quarter when it was shut out until Van Lewen converted a put-back layup with 40 seconds remaining. Ripon Christian scored 11 unanswered points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome its poor start.
“Sometimes you just get beat by the better team, and that’s a good team right there,” RC coach Ed Mulder said. “It’s good to play them and hard to lose to them. And it’s hard to beat them when they shoot the ball that well."
Both teams begin the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs next week, and Ripon Christian is the reigning Division VI champion. Brackets will be released Saturday.
Ripon 31, Ripon Christian 15
The Indians broke away with a 16-2 second-quarter flurry. They were led by Kiley Holland’s 10 points. Samantha Anema registered eight for Ripon Christian.