For the first time in what has been an otherwise-dominant run to the Trans-Valley League championship, Ripon Christian was rattled Wednesday at rival Ripon.
The Knights’ best player picked up his third foul just 2 minutes into the second quarter, and in a flash, they were trailing by double digits. Meanwhile, the boisterous home crowd was fully engaged, as its youthful squad had the look of a world beater during that stunning first half.
“I was scared,” Ripon Christian coach Mark Hofman said. “I actually turned to one of my coaches and said, ‘We could be in trouble.’”
No sweat, coach.
In the end, it was like any other against TVL competition — a blowout.
Ripon Christian 60, Ripon 42.
“Well, we needed that punch in the mouth to get us going,” Ripon Christian’s Eli Terpsma said.
It was Terpsma who had to overcome the early foul trouble. The 6-foot-3 senior guard scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half to pace Knights (11-0 TVL, 19-7 overall), while 6-7 Jace Beidleman registered 11 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Justin Hofman and Luke Crivello contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The upset-minded Indians (6-5, 9-18) were buoyed by their two young bigs — 6-3 junior Jack Schoolland (12 points, two blocks) and 6-4 sophomore Marcus Madoski (11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) — but could not sustain their sizzling start.
Ripon went on a 22-1 run to go up 27-14 late in the second quarter. Ripon Christian was held without a field goal for a 7-minute, 9-second stretch, and for the first time in a TVL game this season, the Knights trailed by a double-digit margin.
Coach Hofman had no choice but to get Terpsma off the bench.
“We just put him back in, because obviously our offense centers around him,” he said.”
The gamble paid off. Teprsma ended the Knights’ scoring drought with a wing jumper with 1:52 left in the first half, and Beidleman later drained a 3-pointer from the corner to close RC in by halftime, 29-21.
Although Ripon Christian went into the locker room with some needed momentum, Ripon had reason to feel good about its first-half effort. The Indians drained five of their six 3-pointers in the first half, and defensively, they forced 13 turnovers.
“We got hot and hit a few 3s in a row,” Ripon coach Justin Graham said. “And we had a couple guys who have never taken charges in their entire career take some charges. When you put those things together, it’s a perfect storm for a run for us. We just didn’t do that in the second half.”
The biggest difference in the second half?
“Eli Terpsma,” Graham said. “He’s a really good basketball player. He’s a mismatch nightmare; we don’t have somebody who can guard him one-on-one, so we have to go zone and he’s still able to get to his spots. When he rises up for those 15-footers, he’s above everybody. It’s just about if he’s going to make them or miss them, and he made some big ones.”
Terpsma and the Knights were cookin’ to start the third quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points. They later tallied 14 unanswered points to surge ahead 44-36 by the end of the third quarter, then closed the contest on a 10-0 run.
Ripon was held to just seven and six points in the final two periods.
“We were talking about starting out fast and starting earlier, and it really just didn’t end up happening,” Terpsma said. “We were doing OK, but a lot of things to clean up, decision-making and mental game, especially.
“In that halftime talk, we had a great conversation with the coaches and with our team, and we were like, ‘This is not going to happen. We’re not going to let this happen now. We know we can do this, so let’s do it.’ And that’s all it took.”
Derek Van Elderen and Thys Van Der Hoek also keyed the win off the bench. Van Elderen energized Ripon Christian with his five steals, all in the second half. He turned one of those steals into a coast-to-coast, buzzer-beating layup at the end of the third quarter.
“He didn’t start tonight, but I have six starters,” Hofman said of Van Elderen. “He’s so effective at his position. Just for logistics, he comes off the bench, and when he does, he’s like nitro in a race car. He just pushes things and changes it up.”
As for the 6-8 Van Der Hoek, he made his long-awaited season debut after sustaining a dislocated kneecap back on Nov. 25 while playing in Ripon Christian’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII football championship game. The returning all-league center grabbed four rebounds (three offensive) while making it difficult for Ripon to score in the paint in his limited minutes.
“He didn’t score, but you can see that he causes problems defensively,” Hofman said. “He changes a lot of shots going to the basket. He contributed. It allows Jace to come off, and we’ll still have a defensive (center) in there. Hopefully, Thys can get more minutes soon. He says he feels good.”
Both teams close the regular season on their home floors Friday.
Ripon Christian hosts Hughson (3-8, 13-14) for one final tune-up before the postseason, while Ripon takes on Livingston (3-8, 13-14) with a postseason berth likely on the line.
Ripon and Riverbank are both tied for the third and final playoff spot in the TVL. The Indians can also qualify with an at-large bid but must finish in the top 15 of the MaxPreps SJS Division IV rankings, and they started the week at No. 15.
“It’s close, but it’s definitely a must-win situation,” Graham said.
Ripon 42, Ripon Christian 37
Logan Spear fired a game-high 13 points, while Ethan Bauer and Brett Shaw added eight apiece in Ripon’s upset victory.
The Indians (7-4, 7-15) went on a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter.
Ripon Christian (9-2, 16-5) was headed by Amos Cady’s 10 points. Josh Miler and Mason Tameling contributed six each.
Ripon 46, Ripon Christian 42
The Indians (11-0, 22-5) are a win away from a perfect TVL season after fending off their rival.
Brett Skavdahl led the way with 13 points, and Mike Evans had 10. Chase Bunnell amassed 24 points for Ripon Christian.