STOCKTON — Venture Academy proved to be tough matchup for Ripon High.
"Early in the game, we had problem with their pressure (defense)," said Indians coach Justin Graham following Wednesday's 69-52 second-round loss to the host Mustangs.
With that, No. 10-seeded Ripon (15-14) bowed out the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. It’s Venture’s second win of the season against the Indians, winning the previous match-up 72-58 in the Argonaut Playoff Preview.
"(Venture Academy) sped up the game, which made us uncomfortable," Graham said.
Senior guard David Stallworth triggered the attack for No. 7 Mustangs (23-4), who will face No. 2 Union Mine in the quarterfinals. He had 12 points with six steals and five rebounds.
Venture Academy also had 6-foot-5 Patrick Haynes Jr. and 6-2 Dee Ware, both juniors, working the inside.
When the Mustangs needed a 3, they simply went to sharpshooters Chandler Miller and Logan Kottinger.
Ripon kept the game close early on only to see Venture Academy reel off several runs — the Mustangs often did so by controlling the boards, applying pressure, and forcing turnovers.
They ended the opening period by going on an 8-3 run, extending that 16-9 advantage by pounding the ball inside to Haynes and Ware in the second quarter.
The Indians put together a modest run prior to the half behind the play of Troy Brogan, Nico Ilardi and Malik Taylor.
Ahead 33-24, the Mustangs continued their strong play in the second half by aggressively attacking the basket.
Miller's 3 capped a 12-4 run, in turn, providing Venture Academy with a sizeable 52-32 edge.
But then Ripon suddenly got untracked thanks to the efforts Bronson Burrow, who showed his inside arsenal by scoring 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.
"He played well," said Graham of his 6-7 sophomore center. "We're expecting big things from him in the future."
Brandon Haines opened the fourth by draining a trey and Ilardi and Burrows added baskets to chip away at the lead.
Taylor scored off a drive to the hoop followed by Burrow, who won the battle for a rebound and delivering the outlet pass to Ilardi, who then found Brogan cutting to the basket
And just like, the Indians trimmed the deficit to single digit, 58-51, with over four minutes left in the game.
Venture Academy answered back by scoring 11 unanswered points to seal the win.