DIXON — Aaron Paschini helped spark his team with ball-hawking defense, which led to a whole lot of offense for Ripon’s standout junior guard.
He poured in 22 of his 37 points in the second half, as the Indians rallied past Ram Jam Winter Classic host Dixon 68-50 in the championship round Wednesday. Paschini, who scored 30 points in the first two rounds combined, was named tournament MVP.
“Paschini had a great tournament and he turned it up a big notch tonight,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “The team feeds off that energy.”
That energy was lacking in the second quarter when the Indians (12-3) were outscored 22-6 and found themselves down 32-25 at halftime. They turned the tables in the third with a 25-7 flurry jump started by the defense. Ripon went away from the zone and used a man-to-man full-court press. The switch paid off, as Andrew Wood, Jose Medina and Paschini were able to force turnovers that culminated into easy buckets in transition.
“It was steal after steal after steal and layup after layup after layup,” Wright said.
Paschini scored most of his points off layups. He made just one 3-pointer and was 4 for 6 from the free-throw line. All-tournament selection Cole Stevens contributed 18 points and six rebounds, while Mylan Dickerson led Dixon (8-6) with 23 points.
Ripon has won three tournament titles and takes a six-game winning streak to next Tuesday’s Trans-Valley League opener at Hilmar. The Indians are off to their best start since carrying a 9-3 record into league in 2005-06.
“This gives us a lot of confidence going into league,” Wright said. “We’ve had some quality games and played quality opponents and hopefully it makes a difference for us.”
Holiday Hoop Classic
El Camino Real 63
SALIDA — Manteca (9-2) bounced back from back-to-back losses and finished an even .500 at Modesto Christian’s the premiere four-day tournament. The Buffaloes finished in seventh place.
Six-foot-9 forward Kenny Wooten was a force for the Buffaloes, finishing with 20 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Dwight Young pumped in 18 points and converted 11 of 12 free throws. Anand Hundal contributed 13 points and seven boards.
Brandon Russell paced the Conquistadors (5-7) with 19 points. Eddy Egun scored 12 and grabbed 10 boards.
Weston Ranch 69
The Golden Hawks (5-8) of Bakersfield stunned another Valley Oak League contender for a second straight day, toppling Weston Ranch (9-3) in the fifth-place game despite making just five of 14 free throws. They knocked off Manteca 62-49 on Tuesday.
An 18-9 second-quarter advantage put Centennial up 37-29 at halftime. Malcolm Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 213-pound wing, led all players with 21 points and 14 rebounds and was one of four Golden Hawks to finish in double figures.
CSU Stanislaus-bound guards Jaelen Ragsdale and Fred Lavender had 19 and 17 points, respectively, for the Cougars, while Josh Dilg contributed 15 points and eight rebounds.
Ripon Christian 78,
OAKDALE — The Knights (7-5) hammered their Trans-Valley League rival to capture the consolation crown, outscoring Hughson (8-5) 43-24 in the second half.
Zach Cortright led the way with 20 points and shared game-high honors with Hughson sophomore Will Fiveash. Daniel Hannink chipped in 14 for Ripon Christian, and Ty Beidleman had 11.