CORNING – Ripon High senior Aaron Paschini knocked down a 3-ball for the dagger during the 11th-seeded Indians’ 58-50 win over previously undefeated No. 6 Corning Wednesday night.
Paschini let the air out of the crowd by drilling the trey and leaving his hand hanging with a little over a minute left in regulation that made it a five-point lead for Ripon and forced Corning to start fouling.
Ripon’s senior-heavy squad’s experience during the first round of the CIF State NorCal Division IV Tournament proved to be the difference despite a long drive and a very disruptive atmosphere.
“We have a rival, but nothing compared to this,” said Paschini, who led the 25-6 Indians overall statistically. “But this was a whole other level. I never played somewhere where you can’t hear yourself.”
Corning (29-1) and its home crowd had the visitors, who traveled 182 miles to play in its first state-tournament game since 2012, shook early on with the noise and hot shooting.
But that eventually came to a halt late.
The Cardinals knocked down five three-pointers in the first quarter and led 21-14 after eight minutes.
Ripon went into the locker room trailing by four and trailed 46-40 going into the fourth.
In the final frame, Paschini came up with three of his 10 steals within a two-minute stretch.
With under seven minutes to play, the Indians’ point guard tallied a steal that led to a layup that made it 46-44. Another Paschini bucket tied it at 46s followed by another steal and score to give Ripon a lead with six minutes to play.
“(Paschini), Noah (Hernandez), Cole (Stevens), they all played great,” Ripon head coach Rod Wright said after the win. “But Aaron had a great defensive game.
“Then it was just a matter of distributing the ball around.”
Ripon’s defense turned it up a few notches in the fourth quarter and limited Corning to just four points. Ripon closed the final eight minutes on an 18-4 run and that propelled the Indians into the quarterfinals of the NorCal tourney on Saturday.
“We wore them down,” Wright said. “(Corning) came out and shot the lights out early on, but they didn’t handle the pressure later. Once we got the lead we started to build on that. They were tired and our (press) ratcheted even higher and we came out with a win.”
Paschini scored 11 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth. He also had the 10 steals and one block, six rebounds and three assists.
“We knew it was going to be a long drive, so we had to come out ready,” Paschini said. “(Corning) was a young team and they were shooting. We were just fortunate to come out with second-chance points and get the win.”
Ripon’s 6-foot, 4-inch junior James Gaalswyk had two offensive rebounds that he cashed in midway through the fourth quarter to give the Indians a four-point lead. Gaalswyk finished with four points, as did the senior guard Hernandez. Stevens, also a senior and fourth-year varsity player, finished with 10 points and went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line as Ripon shot 13 of 18 from the stripe overall.
“(Ripon) is definitely a tough ball club,” Corning head coach Kurt Wilkins said. “You don’t come out of your league 11-1 for no reason. We thought we matched up with them pretty well, but the turnovers down the stretch turned out to be the difference and them turning the tables on us.”
Anthony Sisk also hit some late fourth-quarter free throws and finished with 10 points. Kyle Sisk added five for the Indians.
Ripon, which has never advanced past the quarterfinal round of the NorCal tournament, is set to face St. Patrick- St. Vincent on Saturday in the second round of NorCals in Vallejo at 6 p.m.
Noah Zoppi led Corning with 12 points, all off of 3-pointers, Austin Mishoe and Brendan Hoag each chipped in 11 points apiece.