RIPON — Riverbank survived a second-half charge from Ripon and escaped with a 43-39 overtime win in a pivotal duel between the Trans-Valley League’s first-place teams.
Ripon (2-1 TVL, 10-8 overall) trailed 20-10 at halftime but picked up the pace in the third quarter with Zaire Davis, who amassed 17 points and 13 rebounds, providing a much-needed spark. In the end it was the visiting Bruins (3-0, 9-9) who made the big plays when they needed them.
“We finished exactly the way we started,” Ripon coach George Contente said. “At the end we didn’t execute what we wanted to do. They slowed the game down on us, which we expected, but we didn’t execute our plays. We had open people and couldn’t find them.”
Fourth-year senior Olivia Luu fired nine of her game-high 21 points in the fourth and overtime periods combined. She also finished with five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Davis made a pair of free throws as Ripon took its first lead of the game at 32-30 with 4:51 to go. The Indians’ led for the final time with 41 seconds left on Jourdy Richter’s 3 from the right corner.
That was Luu’s cue to take over. She was held scoreless in the second half before she knocked down a long-range 3-pointer. Her running floater tied it at 37-37 with 12.5 seconds remaining, and Ripon turned it over on the next possession. Luu missed a 3 at the buzzer to send it to overtime.
Ripon had four turnovers in the extra period. Lilly Garcia gave Riverbank the lead for good with a baseline jumper, and Luu’s circus layup over Ripon center Karissa Carlson had Riverbank ahead 41-37 with 43 seconds remaining. She later buried two straight free throws to seal the victory. Melanie Ulrich beat the buzzer with a put-back lay in to cap the final score and end Ripon’s scoreless drought that spanned nearly five minutes.
“We rely on her a lot, but that’s kind of a problem for us sometimes because we rely on her too much,” Riverbank coach Lupe Galindo said. She’s a big-time player.”
“We stepped up toward the end there,” he added. “We changed the momentum when we had to.”
It was all Riverbank at the outset as it kept the Indians from playing at their preferred uptempo pace. The Bruins did most of their damage in halfcourt situations and made seven 3-pointers, three each coming from Sierra Nabors (11 points) and Luu.
Davis and Ripon took charge in the third, when it outscored Riverbank, 16-10. Davis scored eight points in the third quarter and was 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the second half, but it was her energy alone that got the Indians rolling.
“We need other people to do the same thing,” Contente said. “She does that every night. The energy we get from her should be contagious for the rest of the team and it is most of the time, but not tonight.”
Hailey Munroe contributed five points, nine rebounds and four steals for Ripon, which has two tough games coming up. First Saturday’s 5th Annual Hoops for the Cure contest at East Union, one of the top teams out of the competitive Valley Oak League. Next Tuesday is Ripon’s in-town rivalry game at Ripon Christian.
Ripon Christian 50, Escalon 34
The Knights (2-1, 11-3) rebounded well from their first loss in over month, as Tuesday’s 44-38 loss at Riverbank snapped an eight-game winning streak.
Ripon Christian dominated Escalon in the second half on Thursday, outscoring the Cougars (0-3, 7-11), 25-12.
Jessica Orozsco paced the Knights with 11 points, while Nicole Graham and Pam Radach added 10 apiece. Radach also pulled down 12 rebounds. Carly Tillema contributed 12 boards and four steals. Jenelle Anderson led Escalon with 10 points.
Ripon Christian 55, Escalon 31
Abby Buitrago netted 16 points and 13 steals while accounting for two of Ripon Christian’s six 3-pointers.
Kelly Engel made three 3s and finished with 11 points. Molly Hoeksema chipped in 14 points for the Knights (3-1, 13-4).