Ron Vander Molen expects the road to get rougher in the coming week, but for now he and the Ripon Christian boys basketball team are enjoying the ride.
The Knights routed Trans-Valley League foe Hughson 72-43 and cruised to the championship of the 45th Annual Oakdale Rotary Classic on Monday.
Ripon Christian (8-2), winners of four straight, burned the Huskies (9-5) in transition in the first quarter and took a 20-6 lead. And when Hughson went to a zone defense in an attempt to slow RC’s roll, the Knights took the opportunity to knock down perimeter shots.
“In the second quarter we had a little bit of a hiccup, but we played good man defense for three quarters and shot the ball well,” Vander Molen said.
Austin Alger drained three of the Knights’ nine 3s and finished with 11 points. Travis Vander Molen led five Ripon Chistian players in double figures with 17 points and seven rebounds. Sean Broker added 11 points and joined Vander Molen on the all-tournament team.
Kyle Colyn and Danny Vander Molen each contributed 10. Danny also had eight assists and seven rebounds.
Ripon Christian will take a short break before beginning a challenging seven-day stretch that leads into its TVL schedule. On Saturday, the Knights host 7-1 Big Valley Christian, and next week they’ll be tested by larger-school opponents Atwater, Liberty Ranch and El Camino. Liberty Ranch (10-1) of Galt may be the best team they play in the regular season.
“We’re playing some teams that are rolling as well,” coach Vander Molen said. “We’d still like to keep it rolling as we get ready for league but we still have some things to work on.”
Dixon Ram Jam
Ripon 67, Vintage 65
Cody Haines dropped in the tying free-throw to force an overtime period and later scored the winning bucket on a layup with six seconds to go for the third-place Indians (8-7). Haines ended up with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Cole Stevens led Ripon with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Aaron Paschini fired 14 points, and Mario Roach snatched up nine steals to go with 12 points.
The Indians shot 12 for 14 from the free throw line in the first half but went cold from the stripe in the fourth quarter when they blew a 10-point lead.
“This group is learning how to win,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “Other games we’ve given away, but this one we executed properly at the end. It was a nice win, a good team win.”