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Tillema records double-double as Knights ground No. 5 Eagles
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San Andreas — Ripon Christian didn’t get the memo.
The Knights aren’t supposed to beat a No. 5-seeded team that has 23 wins and a Mountain Valley League championship to open the postseason.
But they did, and easily.
Junior center Kelsey Tillema was an inside-out force for No. 12 Ripon Christian Tusday, churning out 20 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three blocks to lead the Knights’ 47-30 victory over Mountain Oaks to advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V quarterfinals.
“We didn’t tell them a whole lot about (Mountain Oaks), they just knew they were seeded No. 5,” Ripon Christian coach Kirk Tillema said. “But my girls felt confident playing against them. To win a playoff game on the road is outstanding, now we just look forward to Thursday.
Ripon Christian (11-13) will head to No. 4 Turlock Christian (21-7), which downed Faith Christian of Yuba City, 50-32.
The Knights were able to impose their will on Mountain Oaks (23-5) early on with their full-court press. They broke it open with a 15-6 second quarter and led 28-15, but it wasn’t just the starting five doing all the work.
“It was a game that all of my girls got to play,” coach Tillema said. “All the girls got in before halftime, which is nice. Everybody got a chance to contribute in a playoff game.”
Point guard Kayla Evans chimed in with eight points and three steals. Post Raeline Witt pulled down 10 rebounds to go with six points.
Chelsea Lund and Sierra Hampton scored 14 and 11 points, respectively, to lead Mountain Oaks, but the post tandem had to work for them.
Ripon Christian eventually got out of its press and packed its paint with a zone defense, which allowed just nine field goals and single-digit scoring in each quarter.
The Knights also made their free throws count, converting 12 of 15 attempts.
“Their two big scorers are pretty active from the inside, but we made them shoot from outside,” Tillema said. “I think that, along with our free-throw shooting, was the difference of the game.”

— Jonamar Jacinto