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Modesto Christian coasts past RC without Nelson
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SALIDA – With the absence of powerhouse forward Reeves Nelson – serving a one-game suspension for getting ejected from Tuesday’s game against Ripon Ron Vander Nolen had a lot of reasons to think that his Ripon Christian Knights stood a chance at slaying undefeated Trans Valle League champion Modesto Christian.

And for the first six minutes Friday’s final TVL game it looked as if though RC could stand a chance of pulling it off.

That was until Modesto Christian’s Johnny Hutton and his 28-point performance sunk any hopes that the Knights may have had to pull off the unthinkable, falling 85-46 to drop to 6-4 in TVL play as they prepare to see where their 15-11 overall record lands them in the final Sac Joaquin Division V power ratings.

“Illness hurt us a little bit with Daniel Van De Pol being out for this game, but with the players we had ready to go we wanted to come out and just slow down the tempo and keep them under control,” Vander Nolen said. “They came out in that second half and just manhandled us, and there wasn’t a whole lot we could do from that point forward.”

But that didn’t mean that Ripon Christian didn’t have its fair share of performances that countered the impressive Crusader attack including everything from basket drives to three-point shots.

Tyler Goslinga got off to a hot early start by turning loose balls into buckets and powering his way in through the stocky Modesto Christian defense. Goslinga drew his fair share of fouls in the process – hitting all but one of his six free-throw attempts and helping to set the tone for the rest of his teammates.

Hutton, however, would be just too much for Ripon Christian to handle on all fronts.

On top of his two three-point shots, Hutton didn’t score less than four points in a single quarter and managed to turn the afterburners on in the third when he scored 13 and pulled in six of his 11 rebounds to solidify his double-double performance.

The victory allowed Modesto Christian to finish the TVL season undefeated and head towards the playoffs with an 18-8 overall record.

“I’m proud of how even though we only had seven guys we came out and we played the best that we could for the entire game,” Vander Nolen said. “To be able to come out and finish second in the TVL when you have teams like this in it is no doubt an accomplishment, and this season means a whole lot to everybody who is a part of this team.

“Now we’re just going to wait and see where we get seeded and who we’re going to have to have to face in the playoffs – and there’s a good feeling that comes with waiting for something like that.”

Ripon 66, Escalon 43
Despite having two players break double digits and walking away with a 20-point win margin, the Ripon Indians performance Friday night was too little too late in terms of playing past the final game of the TVL season.

Even though Ripon (5-5 TVL) finished with a winning record of 14-13, their 66-43 trouncing of the Escalon Cougars would be their final on-court performance of 2009.

Efren Sifuentes led with his 16 points, and Dane Wells also contributed 13. While he didn’t find the scoreboard, Kyle Mendel recorded six blocks and the sure-shooting duo of Matt Ratto and Ryan Baker each buried three from beyond the 3-point arc.

Head Coach Rod Wright said the five juniors who will be returning got a chance to start at the beginning of the fourth quarter to show what the team will have in their arsenal next year, and a whole host of seniors were included in the line-up to make their final game more memorable.

“All of the seniors that we had come out did a great job tonight,” Wright said. “We had Michael Merchant score five points, and that was huge for him. It was a good experience for those guys, and hopefully it’s something that they don’t forget.”