RIPON — The countdown can already begin for Ripon’s girls basketball team, though coach Rick Inderbitzin is nowhere near close to celebrating.
The Indians have opened up a three-game lead over four teams in the Trans-Valley League after fending off Hilmar 50-41 on Tuesday. They remain unbeaten in league (6-0, 15-3 overall) at the midway point and have a bye Thursday before hosting friendly rival East Union for their annual, and always-competitive, Hoops For the Cure Classic showdown on Saturday.
“It’s not over,” Inderbitzin said. “We need to play each game like it’s a championship game, because every team is capable of beating us if we don’t come focused and ready to play.”
Ripon needed a 15-6 run in the third quarter to get separation, limiting Hilmar (2-4, 13-8) to a single field goal in the process. Reina Sausedo fired 15 of her 20 points in the second half to lead the charge. Katie Kaiser complemented her with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Hailey Chavez kept the Yellowjackets in range early, tallying 10 of her game-high 21 points in the opening quarter.
“We started the game off strong and played well, but then we left Hailey Chavez alone and she knocked down some open shots to get them back in it,” Inderbitzin said. “I thought overall we played good together, holding them to six points in the third quarter, and I thought our press wore them down a little in the end to finish the game.”
Ripon Christian 49, Hughson 37
RIPON — Kelly Engel erupted for 20 points, as Ripon Christian (3-3, 11-9) is part of the four-way logjam for second place in the TVL standings.
Morgan Van Elderen added 12 points, Renae Heida turned in six to go with 12 rebounds and first-time varsity starter Ariel Vander Woude pulled down 11 boards.
Ripon 67, Hilmar 48
HILMAR — Winners of 10 straight, Ripon (6-0, 15-6) blew open a 22-6 lead and coasted from there behind Vincent Olmo’s 21 points.
Baz Cheema and Kyle Sisk contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively. Troy Brogan, Nico Ilardi and Adam Wood each scored six points, all on 3-pointers. Carter Azevedo poured in 19 for Hilmar (1-5, 8-13).
Ripon Christian 59
HUGHSON — The Huskies (5-1, 12-8) drained 10 3-pointers and were anchored by 22 and 21 points from Justin Watkins and Will Fiveash to remain a game back of Ripon.
Ripon Christian (3-3, 11-8) was paced by Andrew Vander Weide’s 19 points and 13 from Austin Ries.