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Ratto reaches milestone in Ripons Trans Valley finale
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ESCALON — Four-year varsity player Matt Ratto surpassed 2006 Ripon High graduate Nathan Clark on the program’s all-time career scoring list Friday, but it was a bittersweet end to his and the Indians’ regular season.

Ratto scored 24 points but fouled out in overtime, as Escalon fought back from a 16-point halftime deficit to stun Ripon 62-60.

The loss, coach Rod Wright believes, shouldn’t knock the Indians (5-5 Trans Valley League, 13-14 overall) out of the hunt for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff berth. Both teams, he said, were essentially battling for a more favorable seed.

Ripon started the week at No. 12 on the playoff power ratings but lost its final two TVL contests this week. Escalon (6-4, 16-10) was sitting on the 16th and last available berth but figures to move up after two wins.

Other bubble teams — namely No. 18 Summerville, No. 17 San Juan and No. 23 Bear River — suffered losses this week that may end up securing Ripon’s spot. The section will release its finalized brackets online ( Sunday afternoon.

“We should be in,” Wright said. “I hope so anyway.”

The Indians had every opportunity to head into a possible postseason appearance on a high note, taking leads of 23-6 and 36-20 following the first two quarters of play. Ratto, who now has 1,403 career points and trails only Kye Stevens (1986) on the all-time scoring list, poured in 15 of his points in the first half.

Escalon, in the meantime, found its groove on the offensive end in the third, when it matched Ripon’s total second-half output of 24 points in the quarter alone. The Cougars buried four 3-pointers in the process.

Ratto and the rest of the Indians, meanwhile, went ice cold. Ratto drained one of Ripon’s five second-half field goals in regulation, but he was able to keep his team in it by converting seven of nine free throws.

Ratto’s lone second-half field goal came with 17 seconds to go, tying it at 56 and forcing the extra period.

Ripon could have won it at the free-throw line late but was 1-for-6 at one point in crunchtime.

“We just couldn’t score to save our life,” Wright said. “We had our chances. We played well in the first half then missed a lot of shots and free throws when it counted. It was an extremely physical game, but the guys played hard through it and that’s all you can ask.”

Sophomore post Tyler McCreath added 10 points and over 10 rebounds for Ripon. Caleb Christian hit three 3-pointers for his nine points.

Tyler Schuurman led Escalon with 17 points, and Spencer Franceschetti poured in 12 of his 13 in the second half.

Modesto Christian 81, Ripon Christian 56
RIPON — The good news for Ripon Christian (6-4, 19-6) is that the TVL-ending loss shouldn’t drop it out of one of the top-four seeds in the Division V playoffs.

More good news: The Knights won’t face a team like Modesto Christian (10-0, 18-8), favored to capture its 11th straight overall section championship in Division IV, for the rest of their season.

“I don’t think we’ve lost our confidence, this can only make us tougher,” Ripon Christian coach Ron Vander Molen said. “Looking back at how the season has gone, it’s definitely been all positive and our record indicates that.

“We’re satisfied with what we’ve done, but just so far. We haven’t achieved our goals yet.”

Ripon Christian hunt with the Crusaders early, falling behind 20-13 after the first quarter and staying within reach until senior guard Daniel Van de Pol picked up his third foul early in the second.

Then away MC went, scoring 29 points in the second to take a 49-28 lead and coasting the rest of the way.

Van de Pol finished with 13 points to lead Ripon Christian added 11 and center Tyler Goslinga was held to just nine — well below his season average of 20.9.

Alden Wampler had 16 points to lead MC.

— Jonamar Jacinto