STOCKTON — Ripon Christian High rekindled a storied tradition with a Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship.
The Knights won their 12th section title by handling Forest Lake Christian of Auburn at the University of the Pacific Spanos Center, 52-46.
“Hopefully, this is the start of a new trend,” said RC coach Ed Mulder, who brought his daughter Kayla to chat it up with the team prior to the big game.
She was part of the Knights’ last section championship in 2002. This was Ed Mulder’s first as the RC head coach.
Win or lose, he encouraged his team to enjoy the morning clash clash against the Falcons.
RC (17-12) was up by as much as 13 in the third quarter only to see Forest Lake rally back behind the play of Amber Jackson, who scored eight of her game-high 16 points early in the fourth, giving her team a 37-35 lead.
Renae Heida then stepped it up, converting a three-point play followed by another inside basket and a free throw, pushing the Knights edge ahead, 43-41.
Mulder, meanwhile, was used to seeing his team battling it out in close games, with RC being moved back to the tough Trans-Valley League a few years ago.
Morgan Van Elderen, who had seven assists, hit a basket and Rilee Clark followed with a 3 to give the Knights some breathing room.
On a team featuring four sophomores and three juniors, RC’s lone senior Kelly Engel put the finishing touches. She dished off a pass to Ariel Vande Woude for a layup and came up with steal.
Engel’s two free throws in final minute all but put the game away for the Knights.
“I just tried to pick up my teammates,” she said of her senior leadership.
“I love these girls and I want them to succeed.”
Engel was part of a balanced scoring attack by RC, which had four players in double figures.
Clark led the way with 11 while Engel, Heida and Vander Woude had 10 each.
Heida and Vander Woude were also strong on the boards with 10 and nine boards, respectively.
Jessi Dreschler and Ellie Wood finished with a respective 14 and 11 points for Forest Lake (20-6).
The Falcons jumped out to the early lead thanks to a pair of 3s by Wood.
RC orchestrated a 13-2 run to grab a 15-10 lead midway through the second quarter.
“We talked about working as a team. We made our runs by moving the ball and playing as a team,” Mulder said.
Van Elderen mentioned that nerves may have been a factor to RC’s slow start.
“Once we calmed down we were able to play our game,” she said.
The finals featured 57 turnovers by both teams. RC had 27 while the Falcons committed 30 turnovers.
Next stop for the Knights is the CIF NorCals starting next Tuesday.
For now, they’ll enjoy their new section title banner.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.