STOCKTON — Patterson’s Marty Collins hit one of two free throws with one-tenth of a second left in the game Thursday to help the Tigers avert overtime and defeat Ripon 53-52 in opening-round action of the Joe Nava Delta King Classic at Stagg High School.
“End of games are the end of games,” Indians coach Rod Wright said. “It is the turnovers in the early part of the game that are what we were worried about.
“Our kids played harder as the game went on and that is what we were looking for. The point we were trying to emphasize is that we have to get better by playing hard the whole game and not just half of it.”
The Tigers (1-0) employed an aggressive full-court trapping defense to start the game, forcing four Ripon turnovers in the first period and four more in the second for a 34-28 Patterson lead at halftime.
“We have some guys who are pretty long,” Tigers coach Jason McCleery said. “And we learned that if we can force some rainbow passes we have tons of quickness and we can capitalize on that.
“We like getting those long arms out there and putting a lot of pressure on the other team.”
The fourth quarter saw three lead changes and three ties with the last tie coming behind a pair of free throws by the Indians’ Spencer Shroen to knot the score at 52 with 23.6 seconds left.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” McCleery said. “This was our first game of the season and Ripon is a good team with their big guy (Vincent Olmo) inside tough to handle.
“I am just happy with our guys the way they came back at the end to knock a couple of shots down and make some stops.”
Olmo nearly had a double-double for Ripon (0-1), scoring 14 points while grabbing nine rebounds.
“They were very athletic,” Olmo said. “It was hard to rebound sometimes. In the second half we brought some more intensity, grabbed some rebounds and ran more.”
The Indians’ Kyle Sisk led all scorers with 18 points along with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
“The second half we brought the intensity level up really high,” Sisk said. “They just got lucky at the end.”
Wright appreciated the opportunity to go up against someone other than his own team in practice.
“Early on we didn’t play with any type of intensity,” Wright said. “Because we can’t replicate senior speed in practice. It’s quicker when you are in with someone else’s first team and all of their players are more (upperclassmen) where our kids are young and still developing, so it is taking a little time.
“This was the first real test in a real game as compared to the Foundation Game, and we are trying to figure out who the rotation is. It took until the second half before they could get ready to go when their intensity picked up and the defense started playing a little bit better.”
Joe Okitukunda led Patterson with 15 points along with nine rebounds and three steals and teammate Jerome Hughes tallied 13 points behind three 3-pointers in the first half.
Ripon faces Bear Creek in second-round consolation action this afternoon at 3:30 while the Tigers and Tracy play in a semifinal contest at 6:30 p.m.