SACRAMENTO – Ripon High opened the fourth quarter of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championship in prime position to continue its season long reputation as giant killers.
The Indians, though fell short, succumbing to a 29-12 fourth quarter Modesto Christian onslaught to suffer a 68-46 defeat at Power Balance Pavillion Saturday. Ripon entered the final period looking at a manageable five-point deficit.
Ripon managed to do as it has done all season in its matchups with the Crusaders, keeping the close throughout and matching Modesto Christian’s effort on the defensive end. The Indians had everything in its favor late in the second period when Modesto Christian took the course of the game along a new path.
“It was a five-point game with two minutes left in the second quarter and they went on a 11-0 run,” Ripon head coach Rod Wright said. “That’s where it all changed. We had our way inside until we got too many fouls. We then got in a position where we were playing their game more than ours.”
Ripon (19-13) jumped out on the Crusaders with a 23-17 lead when the tables turned and Modesto Christian held Ripon scoreless after taking its largest lead of the game.
In both of the two teams’ previous meetings Ripon was able to sustain each of Modesto Christian’s expected runs. They withstood a 20-point deficit in Salida, and recovered to make it a one-possession game. At Power Balance that would not be the case. Ripon would find no answer for Modesto Christian’s final push, sealing its fate when senior Jake McCreath was awarded a technical foul late in the fourth when he already had four personals.
“The difference today was that we were in foul trouble,” Wright said. “Our guys were sitting on the bench. It’s just the make up of the game. We weren’t able to match their physical athleticism, especially on the boards.”
McCreath led the Indians with 13 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. Cole Herren chipped in with nine points and was awarded the section’s division-IV Sportsmanship award in the post game ceremonies.
“He’s a special player; a special kid and he always plays hard and that’s all you can ask,” Wright said of Herren. “That’s what we ask of our team every year, is just to play hard from start to finish.
Modesto Christian (26-5) stumbled in its decade-long dominance over the section, not reaching the title game a season ago. The Crusaders will join Ripon in the 31st Annual CIF Basketball Championships beginning Wednesday, with Ripon hosting Gridley.