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Nelson-less Crusaders avoid upset loss to RC
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RIPON — No Reeves Nelson, no problem for Modesto Christian.

Nelson’s right-hand man, 6-foot-5 forward Johnny Hutton, did more than enough to fill the void in the Crusaders’ 55-44 victory over Ripon Christian Tuesday.

Hutton finished with 29 points while hitting five 3-pointers. Ripon Christian coach Ron Vander Molen wasn’t sure why Modesto Christian’s UCLA-bound star forward was sidelined, but Hutton made sure Nelson’s absence did not matter.

Modesto Christian maintained its grasp of the Trans Valley League lead, improving to 5-0 (13-8 overall) at the midway point of the regular season.

“Hutton obviously hurt us, but I was happy to see us play Modesto Christian tough like that — with or without Reeves,” Vander Molen said.

After upsetting rival Ripon 59-56 in overtime last week, the Knights (2-3, 11-10) were up to the task of going head-on with the league and Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV defending champion.

Ripon Christian trailed by just one at one point in the second, but the margin slowly increased as the Crusaders led 31-35 at halftime. MC led 33-28 after three.

“We played like we did against Ripon,” Vander Molen said. “We controlled the tempo.”

Arie Den Dulk, Tyler Goslinga and David Vander Schaaf each turned in 11 points to lead the Knights, who next play Riverbank on the road Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Ripon 82, Escalon 52
In Ripon, the Indians (3-2, 12-10) established their dominance early by taking a commanding 32-6 lead into the second quarter. Ripon was up 50-11 with still 3:11 to go in the opening half.

Forward Dane Wells was an impressive 11-for-14 from the field, finishing with 24 points and nine rebounds. Efren Sifuentes added 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Matthew Ratto contributed 14 points behind four 3-pointers, and Michael Merchant chimed in with six second-quarter points off the bench.

— Jonamar Jacinto