RIPON – Ripon Christian’s boys basketball team solidified its Trans-Valley League dominance Thursday night with a 72-61 road victory over crosstown rival Ripon.
The Indians, now 8-12 overall and 4-1 in the TVL, entered the game riding a six-game winning streak after a sluggish 2-11 start to the season. The Knights were just as mercurial, starting the campaign with five wins, followed by five losses. Now, 12-6 overall, RC has opened TVL play with four consecutive wins to take over sole possession of first place.
The Indians will see action again tonight when they travel down Highway 99 to take on Livingston (9-10, 2-1), while Ripon Christian visits Hughson (3-11, 1-3).
In this rivalry, the term “crosstown” is a bit of a misnomer since the front of Ripon Christian’s campus and the back of Ripon High’s abut Maple Street. But for two teams that are separated merely by a crosswalk, at times it seemed like they were separated by the Cross Bronx Expressway.
The Knights played much off the first half with a comfortable 10- to 15-point lead and appeared on its way to a laugher. RC led 25-13 after the first quarter and 42-29 at the break.
But Ripon would not go quietly. The Indians’ pressing defense confused RC and took the Knights out of their offensive flow.
“We would make one mistake, panic, make another,” said RC’s Eli Terpsma, a 6-foot-3 junior guard. “But we’ve just got to focus on having a good mistake-response, get back into it and don’t worry about.”
Ripon would cut the deficit to five points with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter and would stay close enough the rest of the way to make things interesting.
“These are the two best teams,” RC coach Mark Hofman said, whose team will host the Indians on Feb. 9 in the rematch. “And I thought at the end that game could’ve gone a different way. You know, we hit a couple shots, a couple free throws, broke their press a few times – a very big game.”
Eli Terpsma and Griffin De Abreu each tallied 24 points for RC, with Terpsma going 5-for-5 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Four of those free throws – two free-throws and two more issued on a technical foul – put the game on ice.
Logan Gillespie led Ripon with 17 points, while Bronson Burrow chipped in with 16.
Ripon Christian’s Thys Van Der Hoek, was the only other player to finish in double figures, with all 10 of his points coming from inside the paint – none “from the corner.”