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Season ending Knight-mare
Ripon loses second straight in OT after blowing big lead
Steve Vander Molen is mobbed by coaches and teammates after nailing the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation for Ripon Christian.
RIPON – Ripon Christian’s basketball squad could not have opened its first-round California Interscholastic Federation State boys Championships game against Liberty Christian any better, but its perfect start could not have been more misleading, as the Knights fell 76-73 in overtime Tuesday for a season-ending loss.

Sixth-seeded Ripon Christian (22-8) opened the contest on a blistering-hot 11-0 run, closing the first period up 26-12. No. 11 Liberty Christian would not be intimidated by the double-digit deficit, outscoring Ripon Christian 21-3 in the second period for a 33-29 halftime lead.

The tide would never completely swing back to Ripon Christian’s favor, but Steve Vander Molen surely pulled at the momentum. He thrusted the Knights back into contention with a mere 6.1 seconds remaining in their season.
Vander Molen got the Knights to the bonus period, nailing a 3-pointer as time expired to extend Ripon Christian’s season at least four more minutes.

“It was a pretty sweet feeling,” Vander Molen said of the buzzer-beater. “I actually was thinking I was going to dribble it down and pass it to Logan (Vos), but they sent the double-team over to him and I was open.

“I shot it like I do every other shot and it went in.”

Victory Christian (22-8) would not score a field goal in overtime, eliminating the Knights from the postseason by converting on 10-of-12 freethrow attempts. Junior Josiah Duncan made seven of eight, including six in a row to open overtime

“Right now, of course, every coach in America would be proud,” Liberty Christian head coach Todd Franklin said. “But I’m so proud because they never quit. They took a punch; they took a big punch in the first quarter, then they took a big punch with two seconds left in the game.

“They kept their composure, they stayed in and we only have one senior that plays alot.”

The Knights got 26 points from senior Tyler Goslinga, including 10 huge points down the stretch when Ripon Christian trailed the Patriots late in regulation. Daniel Van de Pol and Steve Vander Molen contributed 15 and 11, respectively, but after sinking four 3-pointers in the opening period Van de Pol would not see another bucket until the 1:25 mark in overtime.

The loss will undoubtedly plague the Knights for a while, but their second overtime loss in as many games in no way scars what this team has been able to accomplish throughout the season.

“These guys don’t deserve to go through two heartbreaking losses in overtime,” Vander Molen said of his squad. “They really are too good of kids.”