RIPON — If only every night was senior night for Ripon High’s girls basketball team.
Ripon put it all together Thursday against Hilmar in a thorough 62-22 thrashing that ended with a running clock. This is the same Hilmar team that came back from a double-digit deficit to Ripon and won 42-34 on Jan. 21.
In the rematch, Ripon (4-7 Trans-Valley League, 8-16 overall) held the Yellowjackets (5-6, 11-12) to just two second-half points and outrebounded them 14-1 in the decisive second quarter that was punctuated by a 14-0 run for the Indians. They led 38-20 at halftime and didn’t look back on their way to snapping a four-game skid. Their point total for the night is a season-high, and the 22 points yielded is a season-low.
It has otherwise been a trying season for the Indians, who are coming off a co-championship run in the TVL. They have suffered injuries to key veterans, growing pains for the younger ones and tough losses to playoff-bound squads.
“That’s what we’ve been expecting to see all year long,” Ripon coach George Contente said. “We’re glad that this could at least happen on senior night for our seniors who have been working so hard.”
One of the five seniors honored Thursday was Kelsey Alexander, the team’s top player who missed nearly a month’s worth of games with an ankle injury in the middle of the season. She scored a game-high 19 points. The third-year starter said that the senior night festivities — which included a pre-game ceremony and halftime video presentation — was more of a boost than it was a distraction.
“With the environment that came with senior night, this was a great way to finish out my last home game here,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier with the team. This year has been a struggle, but wins like tonight is what makes it worth it. The hard work that we put in paid off.”
And work hard they did. They forced 21 turnovers and tallied 39 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive end, to Hilmar’s 16. Fellow senior Julia Victor added eight points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
Sophomore guard Ellie Waters contributed 14 points, six rebounds and three assists. Zaire Davis chipped in 10 points off the bench.
“(The Yellowjackets) were missing some shots but defensive we did a great job of doing the little things like beating them to the loose balls. And we were crashing the boards, something we had been preaching all along. Everything just kind of sunk in for them tonight. I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen because we know that they are capable of it.”
Valerie Ewing scored all eight of her points in the first quarter to lead Hilmar. Kinsey Pettigrew, the Yellowjackets’ leading scorer for the season, was held to just five points. She prevented the second-half shutout with a layup with 5:50 left in the game. Hilmar went 13 minutes, 23 seconds without scoring.
Ripon closes the regular season at Orestimba next Tuesday.
Ripon Chr. 57, Delhi 9
The Knights (13-0, 19-3) clinched the outright league championship by routing the Hawks and jumping out to a 43-2 halftime lead on senior night.
Teagan Manus had a game-high 16 points for Ripon Christian, and Ellen Blankers (12) and Amber Hilvers (8) combined for 20. The Knights close out their regular season schedule on Tuesday on the road against second-place Gustine (11-2).