RIPON — Tri-fold display boards honoring the girls basketball team’s five seniors greeted fans inside Ripon High’s North Gym foyer Monday night.
Inside, red and black streamers hung above the cheering sections. Balloons were everywhere. Additional elaborately-contrived posters for each senior player were hung for classmates to pen personal messages.
Even visiting Orestimba’s seniors — all 11 of them — were introduced and presented with flowers. At halftime, the lights were shut off for a video presentation.
Few schools match the pageantry of Ripon’s Senior Night festivities, but Monday’s celebration was a little out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until after they administered a 62-21 thumping of Orestimba that this special night was complete.
Ladder. Scissors. Net.
Ripon (11-1, 22-4 overall) capped its regular season with a share of the Trans-Valley League championship, its first since going back-to-back in 2005 and 2006 and eighth in program history.
“It’s been a long time coming and the girls worked hard for this,” said head coach George Contente, whose first season with Ripon was its last as TVL champion in 2006. “They deserve it, but we’re not done yet.”
“We’re not done yet.” He repeated that phrase to his players as he descended the ladder with what was left of the net in hand.
More on that later.
What ultimately got Ripon to this point was last week’s 61-58 upset of Modesto Christian (11-1, 19-8), which went into the Feb. 5 riding a 98-game TVL winning streak. The Indians have had some talented teams since their 2006 championship run, but MC — which began its reign of terror in the TVL in 2007 — was the mile-high hurdle it could not clear.
“I feel like tonight we were celebrating for that game at the same time,” said Ripon point guard Ruth Waters, one of two third-year varsity players recognized Monday. “This was just the icing on the cake. It’s pretty special to be able to cut down the nets on senior night.”
Waters scored Modesto Christian for 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists last week. Ripon is 9-0 when she scores at least 15.
Tia Sidtikun is Ripon’s other three-year standout. She added 14 points in the big win.
“Unforgettable,” she said in describing the stunning victory. “Probably one of the best moments of my life.”
As for Monday’s game, well, it wasn’t much of one.
All five of Ripon’s seniors, a group that includes usual starter Haylee Fannin and reserves Taylor Bachs and Jessica Coit, were on the court for tipoff. The Indians were slow start, with Bach’s free throw with 5:35 left in the first represented the first point scored in the game.
By the end of the period, the Indians were up 22-4. And with 5:05 to go in the third, Kelsey Alexander buried a layup in transition to give them a 50-10 lead. The running clock was enforced from there.
Nine of 11 Indians contributed with points, and no one finished in double figures. Fannin canned three 3-pointers in the first half for her-game high nine points. Waters (6 assists) and Sidtikun contributed eight points each.
Donna Anthieny paced Orestimba (0-12, 5-22) with eight points.
“We got into the groove eventually, and I thought we actually played a really good game especially with the hype surrounding it,” Waters said.
They are not done yet.
The Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs begin with out-bracket games this Friday, and the first round is set for Feb. 19. The section will release its brackets on Wednesday. The Indians are seeded fourth, according the final playoff power ratings, and it is unlikely that they fall from that spot.
“That’s our next goal,” Waters said of her team’s chances of capturing its first section title. “Our first one was to beat Modesto Christian, and the next one is to get a blue banner up there. I think it’s realistic. This team does a good job of playing up to the level of good teams.”
Ripon 50, Orestimba 13
The Indians (10-2, 24-2) punctuated their outstanding season, which includes a 17-game winning streak, with a blowout victory led by Zaire Davis’ 17 points. Karisa Carlson contributed with 10.