Three words carried the game's biggest shot toward the rim: “I’m making this.”
Those were the words of Ripon Christian’s Eli Terpsma, moments before drilling the game-winning 3-pointer on Tuesday night during the opening round of the 22nd annual Holiday Hoop Classic, hosted by Modesto Christian High.
The clutch bucket capped off a 31-point night for Terpsma, and secured the Knights' 54-52 win over Manteca the Buffaloes, a CIF State Northern California qualfier a season ago.
The second-leading scorers for the Knights were Justin Hofman and Jace Biedleman with 8 points each. Biedleman, standing at 6-foot-7, was the Knights’ leading rebounder with 11.
The undisputed player of the game, though, was Terpsma.
“In my mind, I got to be confident that I make the right decision, whether it’s my shot or my teammate’s shot, and just trust in the work that I put in,” said the senior standout.
The game was close the whole way, with the Buffaloes having three players turn in double-digit points – Noah Lyons with 15, Peyton Nieman with 13, and Elijah Nelson with 11.
Manteca junior Santiago Sanders posted a solid eight points and 11 rebounds.
Though the game was close the whole way, the Knights had the upper hand until the final two minutes. There, the Buffaloes took a 52-50 lead with less than 45 seconds to play. It was then Terpsma pulled up from the top of the key to put the finishing touch on his masterpiece.
With the score 53-52 Ripon Christian, the Buffaloes had no choice but to intentionally foul, sending Hofman, a senior, to the line. Hofman made the first shot from the stripe, but missed the second one and the ball found its way out of bounds.
With 4.1 seconds to play, the Buffaloes were set to inbound the ball and make an attempt to force the game into extra time. The inbound pass, however, was intercepted, sealing the Knights' win in the Holiday Hoop Classic’s opening round.
Ripon Christian will face host and defending tournament champion Modesto Christian on Wednesday at 7 p.m., while the Buffaloes are scheduled to face Downey in the opening round of the consolation bracket.
Lucas Stackpole is an intern reporter for FrontRowPreps.com. He is a senior at Sierra High School in Manteca and hopes student sports journalism in college.