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Knights cant keep it close
Ripon Christian guard Kayle Colyn keeps her dribble after getting contacted by a Turlock Christian defender during second-half action of the Southern League battle Tuesday.
RIPON – The Turlock Christian Eagles came to visit Ripon Christian for a battle of the final two Southern League unbeatens, and when the brief stay was over the Eagles were the league’s only undefeated squad after a 59-45 win over the Knights Tuesday.

Ripon Christian (4-1 SL, 10-4 overall) opened the game looking the part of the league’s best, getting immediate offensive contribution from Mikaela Alger and holding a quartet of Turlock Christian scoring threats at bay through the opening quarter.

Ripon Christian’s 11-12 first quarter deficit turned into the game’s biggest lead up until that point when Alger sank a pair of free throws to put the Knights up 19-14. Things changed in a hurry as Turlock Christian peeled off a defensively inspired 14-2 run to close the first half with a 28-21 lead.

“Probably the biggest difference was with four minutes to go in the half, I opted not to put Mikaela Alger back in,” Ripon Christian head coach Ed Mulder said. “She was the only one who was really scoring inside, and we just went dead there for awhile.

“We came out flat in the second half, and a seven-point game became a 15-point game just like that.”

The Knights needed a spark and they simply couldn’t find it, struggling to find any success on offense to open the third, and falling victim to a blistering hot Natalie Snyder who helped the Eagles with back-to-back 3-pointers during a 15-7 run.

“We knew this was a big game,” Turlock Christian Coach Edwin Santiago said. “The last two years we’ve only seen each other in  the playoffs, and we’d only beaten them by 10 points in those games. I told them that this was going to be a close game and that everything would count.

“I wanted them to have the presence of mind to be present today. Not just physically here, but mentally too.”

Foul trouble forced Alger to the bench in the first half, after picking up two fouls early in the first. Twin sister Morgan Alger supplemented some offensive production along with Mikayla Manus and Raeann De Rousse, but Ripon Christian was unable to keep pace.

Mikaela Alger led the Knights with 13 points, while Manus chipped in with eight. Turlock Christian got a pair of huge efforts from junior Snyder (19 points) and senior Molly Farrar (17 points). The two teams will meet again in 23 days, and Ripon Christian will have to find a way to sustain the energy that they opened their first meeting with.

“I think that we need to handle the ball better,” Mulder said. “If we can handle the ball better, I think that we will be able to play with them. When we used dribble penetration we got a lot of things out of our offense.

“So I told the girls after the game, we have to get better with our ball handling.”