RIPON — Being the top-seeded team didn’t translate into a Sac-Joaquin Section championship for Sacramento Adventist two weeks ago.
As the No. 6 seed in the CIF Northern California Division VI Championships, the Capitals from Carmichael were unstoppable.
From Laytonville to Redding and finally Ripon, the road warriors of the small-schools division vanquished the opposition at every stop, including Tuesday’s 57-47 conquest of No. 1 Ripon Christian in the title game.
It was a rematch of their SJS Division VI final at the University of the Pacific back on March 2 when the Knights (21-10) dominated the final four minutes for a 59-51 win and their 10th section crown.
Revenge was understandably sweet for Sacramento Adventist coach Scott Tedmon and his extra-motivated players.
“We were not pleased with our sixth seed,” Tedmon said. “We were the No. 1-ranked team in Northern California for two months. When they gave us the sixth seed, that’s fine, that’s just a number, we’ll embrace it and we’ll just take it out on our opponents.
“We did come in with a chip (on our shoulders) throughout this whole tournament. We knew we were better than a sixth seed. We respect everybody that we play, we fear nobody, we put it all out on the court and now we’re NorCal champions.”
The Capitals (28-5), who end the season winners of 22 of their last 23, led wire-to-wire by controlling tempo, scoring inside and out and neutralizing Ripon Christian’s considerable size advantage with speed and grit.
Simply put, Ripon Christian was outplayed and outshot in its own gym that was packed from wall to wall by spirited supporters from both schools.
“That’s basketball,” Ripon Christian coach Mark Hofman said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well and we had been shooting well up until now. We had a bad shooting night and a lot of loose balls didn’t go our way … but their guards are pretty athletic, they’re fast and they hit shots.”
Tedmon banked on his guard-heavy team to have the upper hand in perimeter shooting, it was just a matter of slowing down Ripon Christian’s 6-foot-7 Andrew Vander Weide and 6-8 Jacob Vander Hoek (four points, two rebounds) in the post.
Vander Weide was held to six points, three rebounds and four assists. He accounted for the Knights’ first points in the second half with a layup but did not score for the remaining 14 minutes, 49 seconds.
Cade Alger did all he could for the Knights, producing game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 junior guard registered 11 of their 13 fourth-quarter points, with the final bucket coming from Austin Ries with 12 seconds to go. Alger earlier splashed down a 3 from the top of the arc, but it was only the second of two from long range for the Ripon Christian.
“If we’re not able to shoot well from the outside the defense starts to sag and collapse a little more, and we didn’t make them pay,” Hofman said.
Ripon Christians struggled from the opening tip, missing open shots and committing two turnovers as Sac Adventist raced to a 6-0 lead. The Capitals were outrebounded 6-1 one in the first quarter but still led, 20-12.
Ripon Christian trailed by as much as 11, 28-17, in the second quarter after Griffin Trull drained one of his team’s six 3-pointers of the half. The Knights countered with their best stretch of the game, a 7-0 run capped by two layups from Alger, but could not inch closer from there.
Sacramento Adventist hit two more 3s before halftime and led 34-26 at the break, but even as the Capitals began to slow down Ripon Christian was unable to capitalize. Both teams had eight points in the third quarter.
“We were taking quick shots in a lot of our possessions and I think we could have valued the ball a lot more,” Alger said. “Defensively at the end we played alright, it just came down to being more efficient on the offensive end and we were not very efficient.”
Sacramento Adventist was, for the most part, especially in the first half.
Bryce Beaman hit three first-half 3-pointers for Sacramento Adventist, finishing with 11 points off the bench. Shane Jones also provided an another early spark, penetrating to the basket at will for 10 of his 15 points in the first quarter.
Trull, the Capitals’ leading scorer for the season, wound up with 17 points and converted seven of eight free throws in the final period to help seal it.
Tedmon also lauded freshman point guard Breckin Beaman for facilitating the offense and 6-5 twin posts Jamison and Bryson Collins — they each tallied seven points and seven rebounds.
“We just didn’t take care of the fourth quarter and we did not shoot the ball (well) at UOP,” Tedmon said. “We respect them, they deserved to win the game, but we knew if we played well to our abilities we could beat them.
“It was a matter of going on the road to Laytonville, the 3 seed, and taking care of business, then going to Redding Christian, the 2 seed, and taking care of business. This is where we wanted to be. We knew we could defend, we knew we could rebound better than we did in the section championship game and at the end of the day we can shoot the basketball. I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”