RIPON – The Ripon Christian boys basketball team blew through Southern League play with relative ease.
The Knights’ dominance continued at the season-ending coaches meeting, where they swept the Southern League’s top individual awards.
Senior point guard Danny Vos and head coach Ron Vander Molen were rewarded for their leadership.
Vos was named Most Valuable Player after steering the Southern League’s top offense with remarkable efficiency.
It’s the second straight MVP award for the Dordt College-bound senior. What’s more remarkable, Vos played with a lingering knee injury suffered during football.
“He was playing at 50-60 percent this year with that knee injury he’s been dealing with,” Vander Molen said. “Even at that he really was what made our team perform well. I’m really impressed with how tough he hung in there. I don’t think very many kids would have made it through the season like he did.”
All Vander Molen did was blend youth (his team featured three sophomores and two freshman) and experience (five seniors) into a small-school bully.
The Knights went 14-0 in Southern League play and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinals, clinching a berth in the CIF Northern California tournament.
His roster was well represented on the all-Southern League honor roll. Ripon Christian had five selections on the three teams – the most of any Southern League school.
Senior Jon Vander Molen was named to the first team. The shooting guard led the Knights in scoring at 14.0 points per game and 3-pointers (34).
“Jon was our second leading scorer last year, and with us losing Jared Goslinga he had to step up. He improved his game from a stand-still shooter to being a creator. He is more of a slasher than he used to be,” said coach Vander Molen, also Jon’s father. “He got stronger in many phases of his game, which is what we ask of our seniors. He had a real good year for us.”
Freshman Travis Vander Molen – Jon’s cousin and Ron’s nephew – and senior Clayton Blankers were named the second team. Travis Vander Molen averaged 8.3 points and served as the team’s shut-down defender, while Blankers averaged 8 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Junior Eric Broker (7.7 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Dalton Koslosky (6.1 points, 5.9 rebounds) were listed as honorable mentions.
Vos was the triggerman in an offense that averaged 72 points per game in league play.
He led the Sac-Joaquin Section in assists at 7.5 per game – a number that also ranked him seventh in the state.
What’s more, he had an outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio of 4-to-1.
“He was a team player; he kept his assists up and consistently (bore) down on defense,” coach Vander Molen said. “Usually with a chronic leg injury like that defense is the first thing to go.”
The 6-foot senior was no one-trick pony, either. He averaged 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 steals.