RIPON – Despite Ripon going scoreless for over a 10-minute stretch Saturday night, the Indians still had a chance to knock down a game-winning trey as time expired — but it was never hoisted.
The 4th Annual Play For A Cure Classic between Ripon and East Union was quite a show. The Lancers (2-4 Valley Oak League, 12-7 overall) prevailed with a 42-40 non-league victory after a Ripon miscommunication on the game’s final play.
Ripon sophomore Jill Jamero brought the ball up the court and tried to give it up to Kelsey Alexander, who wasn’t expecting the pass East Union’s Victoria Vezaldenos ended the game with a steal.
“The game could have gone either way,” Ripon head coach George Contente said. “We were going for the win. We had the play, we just didn’t execute.”
Alexander had the hot hand for Ripon (2-4 Trans Valley League, 6-14).
She finished with a game-high 25 including three 3s. Alexander had 18 in the second half and 11 in the fourth quarter.
Melanie Wilkerson (four points) also came up with some clutch fourth-quarter rebounds for the Indians, who trailed 25-12 at the half but outscored the Lancers in both of the final quarters.
Ripon played well, except for over a 10:38 stretch where it went scoreless in the first half.
Midway through the third, Ripon went on a 5-0 run to pull with four. East Union’s Anna Wood (six points, four rebounds) ended the third frame with a bucket that made it 33-27.
The Indians never led in the fourth but did make it a 41-40 contest after an Alexander jumper from the elbow.
“We made some free throws down the stretch,” East Union head coach Jim Agostini said. “I don’t know how great our defense was, but I know it was good.”
The Lancers’ standout point guard, sophomore Olivia Vezaldenos, finished with 13 points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals. Freshman post player Loretta Kakala ended the night with 16 points and 14 boards.
“We can talk about being young, but we’re on Game (19), and they’re varsity basketball players now,” Agostini said. “(Olivia) is our quarterback and (Kakala) provides us a lot of punch down low.”
Ripon jumped out to a 12-3 lead with 2:38 left in the first quarter. East Union scored the next 19 points unanswered to take a 13-point cushion into the locker rooms.
Vezaldenos and Kakala combined for 18 of their team’s 25 first-half points.
“We had some good looks in that second quarter, just didn’t convert,” Contente added. “And that hurt us. But it was still a close game.
“We’ve been talking about putting everything together the whole year. We didn’t put it together in that second quarter.”
Vezaldenos knocked down a couple of clutch first-half 3s, one that broke a 12-12 tie to end the first and another one that made it 22-12 with 3:48 left in the half.
East Union, which will play against Sonora at home Tuesday at 7:15 p.m., didn’t help its cause by going 12 of 24 from the free-throw stripe. Ripon missed 8 of 10, and will resume TVL play Tuesday at home against Escalon (2-3, 7-11).
East Union 38, Ripon 36
Marcella Salyer finished with 10 points for the Lancers and Jessica Pablo pitched in seven. Ripon’s Karla Calderon netted the game-high with 14.
Ripon 43, East Union 33
Jennica Baldwin and Felicia Ceja both scored 10 points for the Indians. East Union’s Alaina Haena led her squad with 10, while Vanessa Cuellar and DeJohna Pryor each tallied nine.