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Ratto sinks game-winning jumper
Ripon’s Jake McCreath (24) finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds during Friday’s 56-54 win over Escalon. Here he scores over the reach of Escalon’s Robbie Leal. - photo by HIME ROMERO
RIPON — If the whole basketball thing never works out for Ripon High senior Jared Ratto, he can take up acting in college.

He set up, launched and made the game-winning shot with 7 seconds left of the Indians’ 56-54 Trans Valley League win over Escalon Friday.

“I really wasn’t that confident,” Ratto admitted afterward.

He fooled everyone watching.

Ratto, who ended up with 16 points but also had two clutch assists that keyed late 6-0 spurt, went through the motions with poise and confidence — or so it appeared.

If nothing else, Ratto was confident he’d be the one to take the big shot.

Escalon (5-3, 16-7 overall) tied it at 54 with 35 seconds remaining, when 6-foot-4 forward Tyler Shuurman knifed his way into the heart of the Ripon defense for a layup. He finished with a game-high 20 points.

Ripon coach Rod Wright called a full timeout with 30.7 seconds left and drew up a play that his teams of years past can run blindfolded.

“It’s one of our set plays we’ve been running for seven or eight years, but we didn’t run it at all this game,” Wright said.

Ratto had the ball in his hands for most of Ripon’s final possession, but it wasn’t until there was about 12 seconds remaining that the Indians made their move.

Sophomore point guard Cole Herrin (10 points) had it at the top of the 3-point arc and dished it off to Ratto on the left wing. Ratto took a couple dribbles to the left as Conner Jones set a pick and drew two Escalon defenders as he rolled to the basket.

“In practice we’ve been working on that shot, and I just took it,” Ratto said.

The Cougars inbounded the ball and immediately went into attack mode.

Ripon (7-1, 14-9) was ready for it.

The usually-sharpshooting Gino Franceschetti — who was limited to five points Friday — attempted an off-kilter, off-rhythm 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired, but the desperation heave sailed well short of its target.

“I had two (timeouts left), but in that situation I have found that if there’s a little frenzy right there and you call a timeout, you give them a chance to set up the defense,” Escalon coach Martin Lauro said. “We got a look that we were happy with, the shot just didn’t go in.”

Bruising center Jake McCreath contributed 13 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks for the Indians before fouling out with 53.4 seconds left. Escalon had two starters foul out: Brandon Shaw (four points) and Nate Peterson (12 points, 3 steals).

The dramatic end was preceded by an excruciating stop-and-go pace as 46 fouls were called. There were 48 infractions the first time the two teams met in a 60-48 Ripon win.

Additionally, Ripon had 26 turnovers — nine during a sloppy first quarter in which it trailed 10-2 to start — while forcing Escalon into 20.