For a team known for its potential explosiveness on offense, Ripon turned to its defense to get untracked in its nonleague contest at East Union on Wednesday.
The Indians held the Lancers to a season-low in scoring, limited fourth-year guard Gyse Hulsebosch to 14 points and rode Aaron Paschini and Cole Stevens in the second half en route to a 59-46 victory.
Ripon (5-3) snapped a six-game losing streak to East Union (5-3). Five of those losses were decided by less than five points. The Indians led by as much as 18, 53-35, in the second half of Wednesday’s game.
Paschini spearheaded them with 20 points and twice got easy buckets in transitions off turnovers he created. Stevens added 19 points and eight rebounds.
“Coach always says defense first, so we just go by that,” Paschini said. “Anytime we get the ball we just push it — that’s our thing.”
And they did their thing even without starting guard Noah Hernandez, who is nursing a toe injury.
Blake Greenlee kept East Union in the game in the opening half, scoring 12 of his team-high 13 points. He also collected seven rebounds and three blocks. The 6-foot-4 forward converted his third 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer, giving the Lancers a 28-27 edge. Ripon took the lead for good in the first minute of the second half when Cole Stevens knocked down a tough runner and the ensuing free-throw for a 3-point play.
The Indians later scored 10 unanswered points and held East Union without a field goal for nearly 5 minutes. Hulsebosch’s 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in the third quarter ended the dry spell. Hulsebosch, who made some acrobatic layups to get much of his points, scored just seven in each half. He came in averaging well over 20 points per game.
“The whole goal was to not let Gyse beat us; somebody else had to beat us,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “Fortunately, that worked out.
“This one was a nice team win because we had a lead and worked on slowing down the pace and see if we could get good shots,” Wright added. “It was nice to see Aaron and Cole go big in the second half. It got us going.”
East Union knew what Ripon wanted to do but couldn’t prevent it from happening, leading to what coach Ryan Tarr called a “frustrating” night. Although his team struggled from the field, particularly in the second half, it was the effort on the defensive end he was most displeased with.
“We told the guys that’s a typical (Valley Oak) league game, (so) we have to get used to that,” Tarr said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight but that isn’t an excuse. We have to find ways to win the game when that happens. We just didn’t get it done defensively and rebounding tonight.”
Ripon 65, East Union 24
Spencer Shroen led three Indians in double figures with 20 points, and they outscored East Union 22-6 in the third quarter to blow it open.
Justin Hansen and Adam Wood added 15 and 11 points, respectively, for Ripon (6-2). East Union, led by Jojo Espinoza’s six points, had to battle through foul trouble in the first half. The Indians made just six field goals over the first two quarters but were awarded 24 foul shots. They were ahead 26-13 at halftime.
Ripon 48 East Union 40
Troy Brogan scored 15 points, Nico Ilardi contributed 12 and Ryan Barner grabbed 10 rebounds as the Indians held on for the win.