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Ripon holds off late rally from Van Elderen, Ripon Christian
Ripon Christian-Ripon girls basketball
Ripon’s Makenzie Loechler elevates for the short-range jump shot over Ripon Christian’s Kristen Van Elderen. - photo by GARY JENSEN/

It was senior night Tuesday at Ripon High.

Seniors from the Indians and visiting Ripon Christian were recognized at this local rivalry Trans-Valley League showdown.

They wouldn't disappoint.

"We needed this game," said RHS coach Rick Inderbitzen, who went exclusively with his upperclassmen at the outset.

Included were Esme Macias, Taylor Tobin, Kaylee Tuggle, Kaylee Hutchinson and Sierra Hollis.

Hollis and Hutchinson led the way, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively to help give the Indians a 46-40 victory.

At one point, Ripon (7-4 TVL, 16-9 overall) held a seemingly 33-15 comfortable edge early in the third quarter. That was until the bank opened.

The young Knights (3-8, 4-16) chipped away, delivering on a series of bank shots, including several from long range 3s compliments of senior Kristen Van Elderen.

"It was good to see her have that kind of game," said RC coach Mike Vander Molen.

Van Elderen netted — most were banked in — 13 of her 21 points in the third, hitting five 3s to go with her game-high 21 points.

Ripon, trailing 11-10 after one quarter, went on a 13-4 run in the second while taking a 23-15 halftime lead.

Grace Mikami, Emily Sesser and Kacie Johnson led that run for the Indians, who kept RC scoreless in the final four minutes of the second.

Ripon continued to build on that lead early in the third. Hollis scored on a post move and a put-back shot while Hutchinson had a pair of mid-court steals turned quickly into transition points.

Hollis delivered on a 3 to give her team a 17-point cushion.

At the 4:38 mark of the quarter, Van Elderen netted a 3 to help spark the RC offense.

Reagan Van der Hoek scored on a put-back and Maddie Yonker, who finished with 11 points for RC, scored off a steal.

The Knights' 14-6 run was highlighted by Van Elderen's buzzer-beating trey from just past half court.

Ahead 38-30, Ripon turned to Hutchinson and Hollis. Hutchinson had another of her breakaway steal for a basket and Hollis delivered on yet another put-back hoop.

RC countered with Van der Hoek converting on an inbound play and Yonker sinking a 3.

Down 42-37, the Knights had climbed back to make it a two-possession game.

Ripon needed free throws from Hutchinson and a layup steal from Kaylee Tuggle to secure the victory.

"We had to weather that storm," said Inderbitzen, whose team will look to avenge an earlier loss to Livingston this week.

Vander Molen was complimentary of the effort of his Knights despite coming up short on the comeback.

"As young as they are, they had the attitude to not give up," he said of his team comprised of five freshmen and four sophomores.