After spotting visiting Sierra runs of 9-0 and 8-2 to start each half, Ripon battled back to force eight steals down the stretch and come within six points in the game’s final minute but would come no closer in a 51-43 non-league boys basketball loss.
“We played really hard at the end,” Indians coach Dean Balcao said. “I have to give them that. We got the steals, but you have to convert them. If we took away that 9-0 run to start the game, we would have trailed by one to end the half and led by one to end the game.
“So, we have to start better at the beginning of the game and the halves. That is something we have to work on and get better at.”
Sierra (5-2) led by as many as 14 points with five minutes left in the game, only for Ripon (6-3) to embark on an 8-0 run to close within 49-43 with 40 seconds remaining with the final three points coming on three consecutive free throws by Landon Gillespie (nine points, two steals, two rebounds). The Timberwolves then stopped the hemorrhaging and scored the final two points of the contest.
“I think we are still learning how to finish games,” Sierra coach Eddie Morales said. “Every game we have been in, we have had a good lead and we just need to develop a little killer mentality and finish teams off.
“It is part of our process, and we are going to get there.”
The Timberwolves boasted three players in double figures with Joshua Seals (eight rebounds, four steals) leading all scorers with 16 points, Anthony Grady adding 12 and Emil Esperanza 10.
“It was just a hard-working game for me,” Seals said. “I was trying to play my behind off and just help the team win.
“I was playing my role, doing my job and being coachable. That helped us end up on top.”
Grady chipped in seven rebounds and a steal.
“My shots weren’t falling, so I had to find another way to impact the game,” Grady said. “So I figured out that hustling was going to help us win so that is what I did.”
Logan Lefebvre led the Indians with 13 points, two rebounds and an assist. Dawson Downs (five points) added 10 rebounds and Ty Herrin nabbed six steals – four in the final period.
Sierra travels to Stockton to play Bear Creek on Friday night at 7:30, and on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Ripon hosts Patterson.
Sierra 46 Ripon 31
Lorenzo Jones scored 17 points for the Timberwolves and Julian Ruiz added seven.
Ripon 48, Sierra 38
Isaiah Revives paced the Timberwolves, getting half of his 12 points on a pair of 3-pointers along with four steals.
Seban Thomas added six points and four rebounds and Ryan Alves chipped in six points behind two 3-pointers.