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Ripon Christians road stops in Oakland
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OAKLAND – One of the most entertaining teams this postseason finally met its match, as the Ripon Christian girls basketball team closed out its improbable postseason run with a 59-36 in the opening round of the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships Tuesday.

The Knights (12-16) fell behind the No. 6 seed Jayhawks 29-10 by halftime, forcing the team to battle back from the brink of embarrassment over the final two periods. Ripon Christian would respond, outscoring Head-Royce in the third quarter to chip away at an unconquerable deficit.

“We met up with a tough team that pressed us all night,” Ripon Christian head coach Kirk Tillema said. “And we were only down by 10 in that fourth quarter. We made a little charge at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter, but they were a solid team.

“I would say it was their speed in transition that ultimately did us in.”

Ripon Christian fought back behind a strong second half from Kelsey Tillema, who closed out her high school career with a 13 point, seven-rebound evening. Sophomore Mikayla Alger finished with eight and seven, while Amanda Boersma chipped in a half-dozen.

The Knights were able to get every player on the roster a taste of state championship action, leaving the returning nucleus of players something to strive for in the immediate future.

“For us to even be able to qualify for NorCals was a blessing,” Kirk Tillema said. “And I told the girls to remember that they belonged to be there. I have to give a big compliment to Head-Royce, they run a great program and they were extremely hospitable in greeting us.

“The whole experience was awesome and I think our girls learned a lot from that and we will definitely grow from it.”