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Ripon Christian staggers Mercy with strong start
GBSK--Mercy-Ripon Christian pic 1
Ripon Christians Morgan Van Elderen gets a shot off in front of Mercy defender Natalie Totah. - photo by GARY JENSEN/

RIPON — Ripon Christian scored the first six points of the game before ending the first period on a 16-0 run Wednesday and never looked back and as the Knights more than doubled up Mercy of Burlingame 71-34 in opening-round action of the 24th Annual Ripon Christian Tournament. 

“We talked to the girls before the game about being a little more aggressive,” Knights coach Ed Mulder said. “It seemed like we have been playing really passive lately with a lot of loose balls we didn’t get and we have not been doing a good job of blocking out.

“We talked about bringing some excitement and some energy to the game and I thought we did. We moved the ball better, we had a lot of assists and we did a better job of getting the ball into the middle.”

Morgan Van Elderen (six rebounds, three assists, two steals) had the hot hand for Ripon Christian (7-5) in the first period when she scored eight of her game-high 21 points.

“We did a lot of driving into the middle tonight,” Van Elderen said. “And going for the boards as well.

“We haven’t been doing that lately and that helped us a lot in the win tonight.”

Renae Heida added 15 points for the Knights and helped limit the Crusaders (3-5) to seven points in the third period when she pulled down five of her team-high eight rebounds. 

“It was fun,” Heida said. “It was fun celebrating and having everyone work together as a team.”

Kelley Engel scored seven points behind a pair of 3-pointers in a 21-point third Ripon Christian third quarter and finished with 12 points, seven assists, four steals and four rebounds.

“I just love being able to watch my teammates score,” Engel said. “Passing them the ball is fun and I get to celebrate with them.”

The Knights defense forced 19 turnovers and other than allowing 14 points in the second period allowed only single digits in the first, third and fourth quarters. Mercy had just six shots from the field and was led by Alayne Buban who had all 12 of her points from the free-throw line, 11 in the second quarter. 

Ripon Christian plays Big Valley Christian of Modesto in a semifinal contest a 6 p.m. today.