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RC squads begin defense of league titles
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The Ripon Christian boys and girls basketball teams are both coming off championship runs in the Southern League last year.

Both made second-round exits in the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason as well before qualifying and losing in the first round of their respective state tournaments.

The Knights’ boys basketball team went 14-0 in the Southern League, 23-6 overall.

Ripon Christian lost its leading scorer and the SL’s reigning MVP in Danny Vos (10.4 PPG). The Knights are still 8-3 this preseason and are slated to open league tonight at Waterford at 7:15 p.m.

Ripon Christian will put its 42-game Southern League winning streak on the line since joining in 2010.

“Our goal is to win the league,” Ripon Christian head coach Ron Vander Molen said. “We have an undefeated streak I think the kids want to continue.”

Ripon Christian has pieced together a solid starting five despite only having one senior (Eric Broker) and one returning starter from last year’s championship squad in sophomore Travis Vander Molen ­­— averaging 12.5 points per game thus far.

Danny Vander Molen (8.3 PPG), the coach’s son, is a junior up from the sophomore level running the point guard position. Another player up from last year’s sophomore team is Sean Broker, who is the ball club’s leading scorer at 15.5 per game. Austin Alger (10.0 PPG), who played at the varsity level as a sophomore last year, is the fifth starter on the squad.

 “I think we’ll be able to score, but the question is can we be as tough defensively as we were last year,” Vander Molen said. “I’ve learned that a young team tends to be inconsistent, so I’m trying to develop some consistency in our play and emphasize that.”

Coach Vander Molen says that Mariposa and Turlock Christian have solid teams despite mediocre seasons a year ago. And he’s not looking past Waterford, either.

“Waterford has two transfers that haven’t played until (tonight),” Vander Molen concluded. “They can surprise some teams. Hopefully they won’t surprise us. We’re aware of it and we’re ready.”

The Ripon Christian girls team is the returning co-SL champ after going 20-8 overall and 13-1 in league. The Knights split the championship with Turlock Christian and are off to a 5-4 start. RC also features the league’s reigning MVP in point guard Teagan Manus, who just returned for the Knights’ final preseason tournament and helped them to the title with a win over Hughson last Saturday.

Head coach Ed Mulder’s squad will open conference tonight at home against Waterford at 7:30 p.m.

For the Trans Valley League, Ripon’s girls basketball team will open up league play today at Escalon at 7:30 p.m.

The Indians have suffered several injuries this year and will be opening up their conference schedule hobbled. Ripon is 3-5 preseason and will look to match last year’s 11-1 run in the TVL when it shared the league title with Modesto Christian and finished 23-5 overall.

“Riverbank will be strong, they’re doing very well,” Ripon head coach George Contente said. “We’re just struggling along right now because we’re trying to get healthy, but we’ll be OK.”

Ripon has a couple of returners with varsity experience who were a part of last year’s ball club that made it to the second round of the postseason before falling to Argonaut 47-40.

Kelsey Alexander, Morgan Carrico and Zaire Davis will all be key players who will be limping back into the lineup over the course of league. Alexander and Carrico were both honorable mentions in the TVL last year.

The Ripon boys team finished its preseason with a 1-12 record and have its league opener tonight at home versus Escalon at 7:30 p.m.

The Indians are coming off of a 6-6 finish last year, 11-17 overall. They feature a freshman guard in Cole Stevens, who is averaging 10.9 points per game. Senior center Derek Hickman is averaging 10.3 along with seven rebounds per game.

Ripon features senior guard Chase DePrue, Matt Uecker, Michael Morris and junior Massimo Robbins, who have all been contributing for the Indians, who will attempt to contend with the defending champ and this year’s favorite Modesto Christian.