MARIPOSA — It didn’t matter what defense Ripon Christian was in; there was no stopping Dalton Rockwood and fourth-seeded Mariposa in this wild Sac-Joaquin Section Division V opener Wednesday.
Although they never led, the No. 5 Knights were able to put themselves in position to steal the win late but fell short 78-75 against their former rival from the Southern League.
Rockwood shared game-high honors with Ripon Christian’s Zach Cortright with 27 points, but it was his assist on Jacob Baca’s open 3 with a little less than a minute go that proved to be the difference. Mariposa (22-4) led 77-70 after Baca’s long-range basket, and he wound up with 14 points.
“We started in a man defense and they sliced through that,” Ripon Christian coach Mark Hofman said. “We went to a 2-3 zone and they sliced through that, too. Our 1-3-1 worked a little better, but you can’t give up 78 points and expect to win. It was too hard to come back.”
To Ripon Christian’s credit, it kept coming back. The Trans-Valley League champion trailed 40-26 halfway through the second quarter but was closer by halftime down 45-36. Rockwood had 16 points by the break.
“He was hitting everything,” Hofman said of the 6-foot-2 senior.
Ripon Christian (18-8) chipped away in the third quarter and eventually tied it 60-60 on a bucket from 6-6 center Ty Beidleman (12 points). He and senior Travis Vander Molen (11 points) spearheaded the last-ditch effort to extend the season, but Ripon Christian never took the lead. Daniel Hannink contributed 11 points for the Knights. Cortright accounted for five of their eight 3-pointers.
“My kids fought hard,” Hofman said. “Fortunately for us, we have quite a few of them coming back.”