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Knights stun rivals
Goslinga scores 27 in thrilling overtime victory
Ripon Christian center Tyler Goslinga muscles his way down low in front of Ripon posts Kody Wengel and Dane Wells (15). Goslinga finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds. - photo by HIME ROMERO
RIPON —Tyler Goslinga was automatic from the field, but not so much from the free-throw line.

But after missing nine of his first 14 from the stripe, Ripon Christian’s standout 6-foot-7 center steeled his nerves to bury two free throws to send the game into overtime and made two more for the final points of the Knights’ stunning 59-56 victory over much-favored host Ripon Friday.

The Knights (2-2 Trans Valley League, 11-9 overall) as a whole struggled with free throws all night, making just 18 of 33.

Goslinga, who finished with game-highs 27 points and 15 rebounds, was 4-for-4 when it counted.

“I was struggling all night, I was getting down,” he said. “I couldn’t make my shots (and thought) we were going to lose this to free throws.”

Ripon (2-2, 11-10) blew a seven-point lead in the final quarter of regulation, but Efren Sifuentes swung the momentum back in the Indians’ favor after hitting a deep 3-pointer with 55 seconds left and picking a Ripon Christian ball handler in the backcourt for an easy layup to give the home team the 56-54 lead.

Ripon Christian forward David Vander Schaaf (16 points) countered with an impressive drive and finish while drawing the fifth foul on Ripon’s Dane Wells (15 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) in the process. Vander Schaaf converted the 3-point play to put the Knights up for good.

“That was amazing,” Goslinga said of Vander Schaaf’s clutch and-1. “That saved the game for us.”

Ryan Baker (12 points, five steals) attempted Ripon’s final two shots of the game, the first of which rimmed out as he drove down the baseline with 15 seconds remaining.

After Goslinga stretched Ripon Christian’s lead with his last free throws, the Indians had just 2.9 seconds to go the length of the court and attempt a 3-pointer to force a second overtime, and Baker’s halfcourt prayer sailed wide right of the hoop.

Despite the free-throw shooting disparity, Ripon made eight of its 12, there were plenty enough chances for the Indians to win it in regulation.

Ripon executed well against Ripon Christian’s 3-2 zone defense but missed too many open jumpers, 3-pointers and point-blank layups throughout.

“They played good enough to win,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “We helped them out a little bit, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Their zone gave us fits, but we had all the opportunities to score tonight. It just didn’t go our way.”

Ripon had three post players foul out, and leading scorer Matthew Ratto, who finished with 16 points, was benched for the remainder of the game after receiving a technical foul that aided the Knights’ late comeback in the fourth.

Ripon Christian managed to pull off the TVL’s biggest upset with its starting guards, Will Heersink (infection) and Daniel Van De Pol (ankle sprain), sidelined and just seven players available. And it was gut-check time for the Knights, who were coming off of disappointing losses to Escalon and Hughson.

“We had a rough week,” Vander Molen said. “I had a team meeting with each one of the kids and talked about what their roles were, and I gave them a chance to talk to me about what they felt needed to happen. We all came together.”