RIPON – After building a halftime lead on the Tracy Bulldogs, Ripon High was able to make free throws and play defense down the stretch to hold off Tracy 36-28 in the season-opener for both squads Tuesday.
The Indians (1-0) were led by Tia Sidtikun’s 12 points and a combined defensive effort that had Tracy forcing up with bad shots for most of the contest. Ripon led 22-14 at the half and Tracy was only able to pull itself to within five over the final two periods.
“There is definitely room for us to improve,” Sidtikun said. “We didn’t play our best game, but we still stayed in it. It was our defense that saved us; we played a lot better on the defensive end in that fourth quarter.”
Tracy (0-1) was unable to get into any rhythm offensively, getting half of its points from Karsi Fyfe. She led all scorers with 14. The Bulldogs found themselves relying on perimeter jumpers, sinking way less than they were able to make.
“We’re not a good perimeter team, we just settled for poor shots,” Tracy head coach Derek Solano said. “Can we make shots? Sure, but I think we settled for those instead of doing some smart things on the floor and trying to work the ball inside like they did.
“They did a great job; catch the ball on the wing, work the ball inside to the post.”
Inside is where Sidtikun did the majority of her damage. That is also where junior Kelsey Alexander did all of hers. Alexander made her presence felt with eight points, but found them in the flow of the game behind non-stop effort and aggressive play on the offensive end.
“Kelsey always does that,” Ripon head coach George Contente said. “It’s pretty much her (modus operandi), she does a nice job of hustling and she does a good job of positioning and scoring.
“When we need her to score she’s not afraid to take a good shot and we count on her; we need her to keep it up.”
Ruth Waters (seven points) struggled on the offensive sets for the Indians, but did not let a sub-par shooting night effect her defensively or handling the Indians’ offense. Waters broke a two-and-a-half minute scoring drought to open the fourth quarter, giving Ripon a 30-21 lead. Sidtikun would follow with a bucket, giving Ripon its first double-digit lead of the game.
The Indians will be back on the court Saturday when they play host to the Sierra Timberwolves at 6 p.m.