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Modesto Christian mops up Indians
BHOOPS - RIPONvsMC PIC2 for 1-18
Ripon senior Curtis Azevedo (33) avoids getting his pocket picked by Modesto Christians Mason Washington (1) during Friday nights 74-27 TVL home loss against the first-place Crusaders. - photo by JOHN-JOEL GRIFFITHS/The Bulletin

RIPON – Despite senior guard Chase DePrue leading Ripon with 10 points during Friday night’s 74-27 loss against powerhouse Modesto Christian, it was fellow senior Derek Hickman who had the highlight of the night in front of the Indians’ home crowd.

Hickman (four points) put down an emphatic two-handed dunk off a fast break that cut Ripon’s deficit to 42 during the fourth quarter – which didn’t seem to matter much to the home audience.

“The pass came from Chase, and I just dunked it,” said the 6-7 Hickman, who recorded his first in-game dunk of his prep career. “I’ve been able to dunk since I was a freshman, just never really had a chance.”

He got his chance against Modesto Christian (4-0 Trans Valley League, 9-7 overall), which took command early with a 23-2 first-quarter run.

The Crusaders recorded the game’s first 23 points before DePrue scored Ripon’s first bucket with 55 seconds left in the quarter. Ripon (1-3, 3-15) heated up in the second frame. Curtis Azevedo hit a 3-ball in response to Jeff Wu’s trey, and after DePrue found the net again on a runner, Ripon trailed 26-7.

Ripon senior Michael Morris also hit a triple in that second -- which was assisted by Azevedo -- and so did Ryan Fugit on an assist from Matt Uecker.

Uecker picked up his second consecutive assist after finding a cutting DePrue, who slashed the Indians’ deficit to 32-15 before Keoni Sablan hit his second of four 3s on the night for MC.

“We did the best job that we could,” Ripon head coach Rod Wright said. “We did really well against (their press), but then we’d have times where we’d turn it over because we’re not as good as they are – I mean, they are really good.”

Modesto Christian was led by Anthony Townes’ 22 points and Sablan was next with 12. Wu had 10 for the Crusaders, who are slated to move from the TVL into the Modesto Metro Conference next year. Ripon Christian is scheduled to join the TVL in place of the Crusaders in 2014-15.

The Indians are still in the hunt for a postseason berth, considering the Sac-Joaquin Section takes the top four teams from the TVL into the tournament.

“We’re not worried about Modesto Christian at all,” Wright added. “It doesn’t affect our playoffs in any way because they’re beating everybody. All we have to do is make sure we beat Hilmar, Hughson and Orestimba. And we’re trying to beat Escalon (Jan. 28), and that would give us at least fourth place.”

Ripon was also missing its standout freshman Cole Stevens, who was out due to a back injury suffered during its TVL-opening loss against Escalon.

Ripon received four from Hickman and three apiece from Fugit, Azevedo and Morris. The Indians will host Hilmar Tuesday night, followed by a road game against Orestimba next Friday.