RIPON — The Ripon Christian girls basketball team turned up the intensity against Millennium of Tracy in second-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V on Thursday.
The Knights (15-7 overall) were forced to move the game up a few hours due to scheduling conflict with the gym.
No matter. RC, the No. 4 seeded team, went on the early offensive attack and managed to keep the No. 5 Falcons in check for the 59-51 victory.
“Offensively, we played well,” Knights coach Ed Mulder said. “We had some problems with (Millennium) on defense but they did have some exceptional players.”
He pointed to Ashley Hart, who finished with a game-high 26 points, and scrappy Amaya Salas, who chipped in with 12.
RC, meanwhile, used good passing to find the open shooter. Spearheading the attack was Elisabeth Regusci, who had 13 points and seven assists.
Teammate Ellen Blankers was the recipient of some of those passes. She hit for 16 points while Carly Tillema added nine points, 10 rebounds, a steal and a block.
“We were lax towards the end so we had to work out some the problems,” said Blankers, who mentioned free throws as one of those areas.
RC was 15 of 19 from the foul line.
Regusci hit a pair of 3s to kick off the game and Blankers got ahead of the defense for a pair of layups.
Millennium (13-10) kept it close thanks to the outside shooting of Hart and Salas.
The Knights continued to keep the pressure on the Falcons in the second half as Blankers consistently connected on baseline jumpers. Jessica Orozsco drained a 3 and Michaela Aimone scored on a putback.
Blankers filled the role of the distributor early in the third as she twice found Regusci for the spot-up 3.
RC took its biggest lead following a basket by Pamela Radach – she also had eight boards, a block and a steal – and a free throw by Jessica Van Vliet, 43-30.
The Falcons fought back to make it a two possession game midway through the fourth, 51-46.
The Knights answered back with baskets by Blankers and Bailey Broker, who converted a three-point play.
“We had to play aggressive if we wanted this win,” Regusci said.
Mulder praised the play of his guard.
“Elisabeth played a great overall game,” he said. “She opened up the middle by hitting those early 3s.”
On down note, Mulder lost his junior guard Hailey Van Laar to a leg injury shortly before the half. Her status appears unknown, moving forward.
RC advances to the semifinals hosted by Galt on March 4, when the Knights will take on top-seeded Woodland Christian. Woodland Christian routed Rio Vista, 66-28.