SALIDA — Since Ripon High's Cole Herrin has a basketball hoop in his driveway, he can shoot free throws all day long.
Or, he can just come play games at the Modesto Christian gym.
For the second time within a year, Herrin a senior point guard shot at least 20 free throws in a game. On Friday he went 18-for-22 at the stripe to lead the Indians to a 64-55 victory over Turlock at the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic.
On Feb. 10, Herrin hit 18 of 20 free throws on this same floor as the Indians dropped a 76-73 decision to the host Crusaders.
"I like this floor, and this was a very similar game to the one we played last year here against Modesto Christian," said Herrin, who finished with 26 points. "It was a physical game and the refs were calling everything. I had the ball in my hands a lot, so I got to go to the free-throw line."
His success at the line was not just a statistical anomaly, it reflected the way Ripon had to play the game in order to be successful against the Bulldogs.
"We had to do a lot more swing-and-penetrate and pray we get the call and hit free throws," said Ripon coach Rod Wright. "That's been our M.O. for a long time. If our shooters are going, we'll be OK. If they're not, then we'll play this way."
Ripon outshot Turlock 43-12 from the line and outscored the Bulldogs 32-5 from the line. The Indians scored their final 22 points on free throws, including all 19 in the fourth quarter.
Yes, it was lopsided. But then, Turlock was faced with having to play catch-up nearly the entire game after falling behind by 17 points in the first half.
The Bulldogs, who scored 36 and 38 points in their first two games in this tournament, again found themselves offensively challenged, scoring only 16 points in the first half.
"We haven't played a team that's zoned against us since the first couple of games," said Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot. "It takes a while to get used to that."
The Bulldogs did find their stroke in the third quarter, hitting four 3-pointers, including one from Austin Bush with 2:52 left in the quarter that pulled them within 40-36. That's as close as Turlock would get, as Herrin answered moments later with a driving layup that would be Ripon's final field goal.
"You can't get yourself down 18 points and expect to come back," Cornfoot said. "We did get it down to five or six points, but you expend a lot of energy doing that."
Bush finished with 14 points and Dashawn Holcombe added 11 for the Bulldogs (8-7,) who will meet Clovis East today at 9:30 a.m. to tipoff the final day of the four-day tournament.
Ripon (3-8) got 11 points from Derek Hickman and 10 from Chase DePrue and will face Horizon of San Diego at 11 a.m. for 13th place.
The early start will give Herrin all afternoon to practice free throws in his driveway.
"We do like to play games like this," Herrin said. "We're not a team that can set up and pound the ball inside, so we have to get our points somehow."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2150.