LINDEN — As much as Ripon junior Matt Ratto was struggling with his 3-point shot, the Linden Lions made sure that he wasn’t the one to beat them during a closer-than-expected non-league contest Tuesday.
Linden was successful in keeping the ball away from Ratto’s hands in the closing seconds, but that left Efren Sifuentes open to hit the game-winning 3-pointer from the top of the arc in Ripon’s thrilling 48-46 win.
Sifuentes’ trey fell through with four seconds remaining, and Linden (3-4) was unable to call a timeout in time to set up an attempt to take the final shot.
“They guarded Ratto and his shirt in that final sequence,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “Even though he shot just 1-for-4 on threes, he earned that respect.”
And Ripon (7-8) earned the win — barely.
The Indians were ahead by six with 3:23 left, but Linden hit two straight 3-pointers to tie it up. The Lions (3-4) then took the lead with 25 seconds remaining after a Ripon turnover led to an easy fastbreak bucket.
“We let them back in the game,” Wright said.
Sifuentes finished with 17 points to lead Ripon. Ratto ended up with 14, while Dane Wells chipped in nine points and 13 rebounds.
Linden center Aaron Judge was one of three Lions in double figures and led all scorers with 18 points.
Ripon resumes preseason play at home against Summerville Friday.
In San Andreas, Ripon Christian (7-5) played well enough to hang with the Redskins (8-4) for three quarters but scored just seven in the third.
Daniel Van De Pol scored 13 points to lead the Knights. Will Heersink added nine, while 6-foot-7 center Tyler Goslinga was held to just seven points and four rebounds.
Linden 44, Ripon 34
In Ripon, the host Indians (5-9) battled valiantly against a solid Linden team (11-2) but couldn’t close it out.
Skye Dominguez produced 12 points to pace Ripon, and Jessica Blythe chimed in with nine.
“It was back and forth and we hung tough, but being a young team we have to learn how to finish the game,” Ripon coach George Contente said. “We’re getting there, we just have to take that next step.”
In Ripon, the Knights (5-5) couldn’t find the touch on the offensive end as Calaveras (5-7) held RC to single-digit scoring in all four quarters.
Kelsey Tillema continued to impress for the Knights, finishing with nine points, 15 boards and a pair of blocks.
Kayla Evans had five steals, and Raeline Witt hauled in six rebounds.
“We kept it close for one quarter, but Calaveras was able to chip away against our strong defensive effort,” RC head coach Kirk Tillema said. “The second quarter really was the difference. Calaveras was able to convert some fast break baskets, and we went cold from the floor.”
RC travels to Bret Harte Thursday for a non-league matchup.