The Trans-Valley League could crown two new champions for boys and girls basketball season.
Although the Ripon boys and Escalon girls carry impressive records, there are no clear frontrunners as the season begins today.
On the boys side, Ripon (12-3) heads to Hilmar (6-4) riding a six-game winning streak, but Indians head coach Rod Wright views defending champion Ripon Christian (7-5) and perennial contender Riverbank (6-8) as other legitimate contenders.
“Ripon Christian’s got the size, Riverbank has the speed and the shooters, and we have a little bit of both,” Wright said.
Ripon Christian opens at Hughson (8-5), a team it routed 78-53 in its final nonleague contest in the consolation finals of the Oakdale Rotary Tournament.
While Ripon has the most dynamic 1-2 guard combo in Aaron Paschini and Cole Stevens, Ripon Christian has good size six players standing 6-foot-3 and taller. Riverbank, which has a 64-62 nonleague win over RC, has deadly perimeter shooters in Nik Keydeniers, Juan Hernandez and Wolfgang Lopez.
Escalon (6-8) and Mountain House (5-10) make up the rest of the league. Mountain House is in its first year at the varsity level and has three freshmen on the roster.
Reigning girls champion Riverbank (3-10) is in rebuilding mode after losing sisters Olivia and Jannelle Luu to graduation the last two years. Escalon (11-2) appears primed to take over as the TVL’s new queen of the hardwood with senior Sarah Leal leading three Cougars scoring around 10 points a game.
Ripon (7-6) and Ripon Christian (5-6) look to be in the race for three postseason berths despite their youth. Ripon hosts Hilmar (7-7) tonight, while Ripon Christian welcomes Hughson (2-10). Both teams closed the preseason with strong efforts.
Expect Mountain House (6-3) to also be in the mix this season and beyond. Of its nine players, seven are underclassmen.