RIPON — This night belonged to the Ripon High Indians.
They defeated crosstown rival Ripon Christian 51-45 Friday in a must-win Trans Valley League battle, relying on their quickness and aggressiveness.
Ripon and Ripon Christian are tied for third place in league with one game to go. The Indians (5-4 TVL, 14-12 overall) cap regular-season action at last-place Escalon next Tuesday, while the Knights (5-4, 14-6) have a tougher test in Hughson, which handed Riverbank its first TVL loss of the season Thursday night and clinched at least a runner-up finish. RC still stands a good chance at making the postseason as an at-large qualifier in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division V bracket.
Ripon was coming off a one-point overtime loss to league-leading Riverbank but has won three of its last four. The Indians were once again locked up a close one.
“Our girls really stepped up,” said Ripon coach George Contente. “They’ve been playing pretty well as of late.”
Despite some early turnovers, the Knights clawed their way back to pull to within two with over a minute remaining in the game, 47-45.
Carly Tillema, who had 12 rebounds to go along with her six blocks and two steals, hit three of four free throws to cut into the lead.
“We didn’t defend that well early on and we really had to battle back,” RC coach Ed Mulder said. “But in doing so, we ran out of gas.”
Indians guard Jill Jamero intercepted a pass and sealed the win with a layup.
It was Ripon’s first win over the Knights in two years, according to Contente, who saw this as a fitting tribute to the likes of Karissa Carlson, Zaire Davis, Jourdy Richter, and Melanie Ulrich on senior night.
Mulder also applauded the effort by the Indians.
“Their quickness and aggressiveness caused us to make some unforced turnovers in the first half – they also shot the ball really well,” he said.
Early on, Hailey Monroe scored on a pair of steals while Richter hit a jumper and a trey for Ripon. Davis, who had two assists in that first quarter, chipped in by slicing her way to the basket.
The Indians sustained that momentum into the second quarter, getting layups from Richter and Davis to make it 21-10.
RC then put together an 8-2 run thanks to 3s by Bailey Broker and Nicole Graham.
The Indians answered back with quick baskets by Jamero, who had six steals, and Monroe, who had three thefts in the half.
Down 28-21 at the intermission, the Knights went on an 11-4 run keyed by Elisabeth Regusci’s 3. But with time ticking down, Davis delivered trey to end the third.
“(Zaire) doesn’t usually shoot those but we know she can make them,” Contente said.
Ahead 37-32, Ripon opened the final period with Sarah De Freitas hit a bank shot. RC made one more push. Pamela Radach and Nicole Graham hit a pair of field goals each while Tillema made it close with her free throws.
Carlson’s basket followed the clinching steal by Jamero. Both finished with 6 points.
Davis, meanwhile, had a game-high 12. Monroe and Richter chipped in with 12 and 11, respectively.
Ellen Blankers led RC with nine points. Graham had eight and Regusci, Broker and Radach each had 6.
Ripon Christian 34,
The Knights needed a last second basket from Kelly Engel to pull out a win at Ripon.