LATHROP — George Contente isn’t fooling anyone.
The Ripon head coach has senior Zaire Davis listed as a guard on the team roster, but she plays much bigger than her 5-foot-6 frame. On Thursday, she pounded Lathrop for 21 points and 10 rebounds and spearheaded the Indians’ 44-36 nonleague victory on the road.
“I learned a lot from last year that it’s all about mentality,” Davis said. “I just think that every time I get it that I’m going to make it. Even if I don’t I can get fouled. That’s the most important is just going up strong.”
The energetic Davis earned seven trips to the foul line and made 9 of her 13 free throws. Ripon (1-1) took its largest lead late in the third quarter thanks to her hustle. Davis muscled down an offensive rebound and stumbled to the floor as she secured the ball. While still on her backside, Davis dished it off to Jourdy Richter on the left wing to set up a 3-pointer that made it 33-22 with 1:57 left.
“That’s what we need out of her,” Contente said of Davis. “That’s what we’ve expected from her since the summer. She did such a great job that I couldn’t get her off the floor today. She’s quick, she can post up and go to the hoop.”
Richter sank another key 3, her third of the game, early in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 points.
Lathrop (0-1) did not go away quietly in its first game of the season. The Spartans scored the final six points in the third to cut the deficit to five but could get no closer in the final period. First-year head coach Dwayne Davis felt it was a winnable game, but missed layups and free throws doomed Lathrop, which was 6 for 23 from the foul stripe.
Third-year senior point guard Lauren Collins paced the Spartans with 13 points. Sophomore Danya Phillips contributed 10 points and six rebounds.
“We’re young but we’ll compete,” Davis said. “We’re going to make teams plays us all 32 minutes. I’m proud of how they competed the whole game, but we’re not here just to compete. We’re out here to win.”
Ripon Christian 38, Central Catholic 36
The Knights (1-1) are playing for the consolation title after edging out Central Catholic on Thursday.
Carly Tillema grabbed 19 rebounds to go with her 11 points. Bailey Broker chipped in 10 points for Ripon Christian.
Central Catholic (0-2) was led by Danielle Fredrich’s 22 points.
Bear Creek 56, Ripon Christian 30
Ripon Christian struggled on the defensive end in its opening-round game of the Escalon Lions Club Tournament on Wednesday. Lily Nieto fired 19 points for Bear Creek (2-0), while RC’s Nicole Graham and Tillema each had six.
W. Ranch 35, Escalon 7
Weston Ranch shut out Escalon for the entire second half in the opener of its 5th annual Lady Cougars Christmas Classic.
Jaylah Evans led a balanced effort with eight points. Inesja Lomax and Laray Dacas pumped in six points apiece.