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Knights slay Dragons in NorCal opener
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The heartbreaking finish to the 2009-10 season has been erased from the minds of Ripon Christian’s seniors.

The ninth-seeded Knights conquered No. 8 Mid-Peninsula of Menlo Park 54-46 at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco Tuesday, setting them up with a second-round NorCal boys basketball meeting with No. 1 St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda.

Last year, Ripon Christian lost in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals 68-64 in overtime to Victory Christian. That was before hosting Liberty Christian to tip off NorCals, dropping a 76-73 decision after taking a 26-12 lead in the first quarter.

“We had talked about it in practice,” RC coach Ron Vander Molen said. “I asked the seniors if they remember how frustrating last year was. A lot of times I refer to the previous season, and after the game they really felt good about making it happen this year.”

One of those seniors was Logan Vos, who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Another difference-maker for the Knights (25-6), though, was point guard Danny Vos. He set the tone in the first quarter, hitting his first two 3-pointers. The valiant sophomore then took over in the fourth quarter, aggressively penetrating Mid-Peninsula’s defense for seven of his 18 points. He also had five assists and three steals.

“He really had his total game going,” Vander Molen said. “He made things happen for us and took charge.”

And the Knights needed the late boost after staking a 27-18 halftime lead behind a 14-5 run in the second period. Mid-Peninsula tied it late in the third and trailed 35-32 going into the final period.

The Dragons (21-4) had trouble with RC’s 3-2 zone defense early on, and it didn’t get any better when they faced its man-to-man in the second.

Mid-Peninsula standout guard Lydell Cardwell, who averaged 24.7 points in the regular season, was held to just two points in the first half. Vander Molen credited Josh Van Groningen’s defensive work for that.

Cardwell ended up with a game-high 23 points, but he chucked up a lot of shots and scored 10 from the free-throw line.

“I thought we did a really good job on him,” Vander Molen said.

St. Joseph Notre Dame hosts RC at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The Pilots (23-8) are led by 6-foot-10 center Brendan Keane, who is headed to Northern Colorado.