The Ripon Christian Knights knew they had a tough matchup against Forest Lake on Friday.
Never mind that the visiting Falcons were seeded No. 8 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.
True to form, Forest Lake trailed through most of regulation only to come back to claim the 56-54 overtime victory over the top seeded Knights (19-6).
“This was a second-round game but it could’ve been played later (in the tournament),” said Forest Lake coach Andrew Ritchart.
It took a great pass by his top player Christian Dethlefs, who found Danny Blackburn underneath the hoop for the buzzer-beating basket.
“Coach always tells us it’s OK to pass up a good shot for an even better one,” said Dethlefs, who scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half.
In this case, the 6-foot-4 senior forward happened to catch Blackburn down low. “It was the best execution of a backdoor cut,” said Blackburn, who tallied a game-high 22 points.
His shot dropped as time expired.
Forest Lake (21-7) will play No. 4 Elliot Christian at Galt High on Wednesday.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said RC coach Ron Vander Molen.”They played through some adversity with two best players on the bench.
“I told my players to remember the good things (this season).”
The Knights controlled the game early on, finding some open lanes – most notably, Sean Broker – to grab an 8-2 advantage.
RC made it 20-10 as Austin Alger found Danny Vander Molen for a pair of spot-up jumpers. Dethlefs kept the Falcons in the game with his offensive output.
Blackburn nailed a trey going into the intermission to trim the Knights’ lead, 26-22.
Forest Lake pulled to within one thanks to a 9-2 run keyed by Kyle Soria’s layup off a steal. But RC answered back with 9-0 run sparked by Vander Molen’s 3 and Lukas Vermeulen’s put-back.
Down 43-34 to kickoff the third, the Falcons chipped away at the lead. With 59 seconds left in regulation, they tied the game on Blackburn’s trey.
Knotted at 49-49, Forest Lake had a chance for the last basket but coughed up the ball with 5.5 seconds remaining. Soria returned the favor by forcing a turnover and sending the game into overtime.
The Falcons took their first lead from there as Blackburn connected on a 3. Alex Schneider followed that up as his shot roll in, making it 54-49.
Down but not out, RC struck back as Alger hit a jumper from the elbow and Andrew Manes delivered on a trey, tying the game at 54-54.
Manes also came up with a turnover with 39 seconds left in the overtime. But the Knights missed their chance while the Falcons seized the opportunity.
“We had key turnovers in crucial situations – that’s not typical of us,” Ron Vander Molen said.
Broker led the Knights with 19 points. Danny Vander Molen had 12 points while Alger had 10 points and three steals.