OAKDALE — Ripon Christian narrowly lost the 48th annual Oakdale Rotary Classic championship game Friday 48-47 to Pitman, but Knights coach Mark Hofman came away pleased with his team’s effort.
“It’s never fun to lose, but I thought we played with great energy and very intelligently,” he said.
The Pride (12-3) from Turlock came in with a sparkling record, and Ripon Christian made them earn this win. Fletcher Jackson had a chance to tie it with 1.9 seconds remaining, but his runner clanked off the back of the rim. Pitman grabbed the defense rebound, was fouled and made two free throws to extend the lead. Jadon Vander Molen hit a long-range 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap the final score.
Ripon Christian looked to other scorers with Pitman handcuffing 6-foot-7 standout forward Andrew Vander Weide (three points) in the post. Freshman Braden Van Groningen stepped up and scored 20 points, while Jackson ended with nine.
“They were doubling Andrew all night, even before he got the ball,” Hofman said. “We’ve faced that before. It opens stuff up for other guys. With the play of Braden inside, that kept us in the game. And Fletcher showed good leadership as our point guard tonight. He handled the pressure and made a lot of good passes.”
Christian Williams led Pitman with 18 points, and Michael Anderson contributed 10.
“They’re a very well-balanced team,” Hofman said of the Pride. “They have a good inside game and outside game. We just played really hard and matched them everywhere.”
Ripon Christian opens Trans-Valley League play Wednesday at home against Mountain House.
East Union 74, Ripon 56
The Lancers (4-5) won by a landslide in their Block M Tournament finale at Manteca High, getting 22 points from Parm Khattra.
Marcus Silveira contributed 17 points, and Eric Victoria turned in 11.