RIPON — A reduction in turnovers normally leads to more points. In the case of the Ripon Christian girls basketball team Wednesday night, it led to a win, too.
The Knights turned the ball over 17 times in the first half – 10 times in the second period – to trail visiting Liberty Ranch of Galt by six points at halftime. Handling the ball better in the second half, Ripon Christian turned the game into a slugfest with five lead changes and four ties before claiming a 46-44 non-league victory.
“That’s been kind of our problem all year with the turnovers,” Knights coach Ed Mulder said. “But we ended up handling the ball better.
“Our post players played very well tonight and did a good job on the boards. Overall, I thought we played very well.”
After missing its first free throw of the final quarter, Ripon Christian (4-6) made nine in a row from the charity stripe with senior Elizabeth Weststeyn going 4 for 4 from the line in the period and notching a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“We work a lot on free throws in practice,” Weststeyn said. “So it was just routine.”
Just a sophomore, Renae Heida did not let the pressure get to her down the stretch when she hit all three of her fourth-quarter free throws and scored seven of her 10 points in the period. She grabbed 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double and secured the game when she grabbed the miss of the last shot from the Hawks (7-8) with three seconds remaining.
“We do a lot of rebound-passing drills in practice,” Heida said. “And along with the free throws we do it pays off in the game.”
In trimming the turnovers from 10 in the third quarter to three in the third, the Knights relied more on the bounce pass then they did in the first half.
“Passing has been one of our weaknesses,” Mulder said. “We work on the bounce pass a lot and the passing was much better in the second half then it was in the first.”
On a squad of just eight for Ripon Christian, only Weststeyn is a senior.
“Our zone defense was much better tonight,” Mulder said. “They are young but they are starting to get the concept. I said at the beginning of the year that it is going to be a process and that process is going pretty well.”
Molly Hoeksema added 12 points behind a pair of 3-pointers for the Knights with four rebounds and a pair of assists and teammate Morgan Van Elderen chipped in five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Liberty Ranch’s Ashley Kirbyson hit four 3-pointers and led all scorers with 14 points.