Cody Haines and David Onochie, the little big men for the Ripon boys basketball team, are playing some of their best basketball right now.
And it may not even matter.
Six-foot-3 forwards Haines and Onochie stood tall in a 62-59 loss to Escalon on Tuesday evening, combining for 17 points, 22 rebounds and five blocked shots. A mystery for much of the season, Ripon’s post play carried it through another woefully cold shooting performance.
Their reward: 6-foot-10 center Erik Scheive of Marysville, one of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s best stories.
No. 13 Ripon will make the two-hour trip to Marysville on Wednesday to face the fourth-seeded Indians in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
Marysville has won 24 of its 27 games and passes the look test: Wright said four of its five starters stand 6 feet or taller, anchored by Scheive.
“They’re good. They’re huge. They’ve got a 6-foot-10 guy in the middle and that makes a big difference,” Wright said. “… The big guy stands in the middle, blocks shots and gets rebounds. I don’t know what we’re going to do with that. We’ve only got a 6-3 (post).”
Haines and Onochie haven’t faced a challenge like this all season.
Truly, Scheive’s scouting report is remarkably unique.
The towering senior is averaging 16.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.9 blocks and has scored 19 or more points in 10 of the Indians’ 27 games. He leads a balanced attack that includes three double-digit scorers: seniors Danny Lewis (14.4 points), Daniel Pelechowicz (10.8) and Anthony Lattuca (10.4).
“I’m worried about their halfcourt game,” Wright said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, because we’re so small by comparison.”
Few in Northern California are taller than Scheive, who made headlines last spring when he suffered a cardiac arrest on the basketball court during an AAU tournament in May.
He lost a pulse and stopped breathing, according to a report in the Appeal-Democrat newspaper, and two doctors who happened to be in the stands provided the emergency care that ultimately saved Scheive’s life.
For 10 minutes, the doctors gave Scheive chest compressions, and then mouth-to-mouth, waiting for an ambulance and defibrillator to arrive. Once they did, Scheive’s heart received three shocks and he was given an intravenous drip of epinephrine, according to reports.
At the time, it wasn’t clear whether Scheive would ever play basketball again, much less this season.
He’s done much more than play. Scheive has become a dominant force for a team with serious section title hopes.
Ripon will try to counter Marysville’s size with its speed. Wright has charged his guards – senior Mario Roach, and sophomores Cole Stevens and Aaron Paschini – to push the ball up the floor.
If Marysville manages to slow Ripon, Wright said Plan B will call for long, drawn-out possessions.
“We didn’t play anybody that had that kind of height,” Wright said. “Our game is going to have to be speed, and once we get into the halfcourt, we’ll have to go ultraslow, use the clock and make them play defense for long periods of time.”
Ripon is making its sixth consecutive postseason appearance. While Marysville is the prohibitive favorite in this matchup, Wright understands that Ripon needs only to get hot to spring the upset.
Stevens, Roach and Paschini represent a bulk of Ripon’s offense, each averaging better than 13 points, but their shooting percentages have plummeted as the season has wore on.
Roach is shooting 6 for 34 over the last three games, while Ripon’s leading scorer Stevens is 10 for 28 over that same stretch. Paschini is 10 for 32 during Ripon’s two-game losing streak.
“I’d love to see us come out of our shooting slump,” Wright said. “We’ve struggled the second half of the season. They got sick. They got hurt. And they didn’t trust their game as much.
“If they trust their skills, and the more we can get our big guys into the game, that’s going to be great for us.”