There would be no fourth-quarter comeback this time for Ripon Christian High School’s girls basketball team Friday.
Trailing by 15 points entering the fourth quarter, the Knights cut the lead to eight and had a chance to slice it to six, but a repeat of their comeback in their semifinal victory was not to be.
Capital Christian earned its first Sac-Joaquin Section Division V girls title in four trips to the final with a 52-43 win over Ripon Christian at Sleep Train Arena.
“We never want to give up, and we never did,” said senior Carly Tillema, who pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds. “We played really well, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Perhaps Wednesday’s 52-46 victory over top-seeded Woodland Christian, in which the Knights erased a late seven-point deficit by closing the game with a 15-2 run, took too much out of them. That, and the fact that the work Ripon Christian had to put in on every possession just to get the ball across midcourt against Capital Christian’s full-court press was too great a physical toll.
“They’re a good bunch of kids, and they fight to the end,” Ripon Christian coach Ed Mulder said. “We were down by 15 and we cut it to eight, but their legs were gone. They were tired (Thursday) in practice.”
Bailey Broker hit a 10-footer to open the fourth quarter, making it 45-32, and two and a half minutes later Elisabeth Regusci (11 points) drained a three-pointer to make it 45-35.
The deficit remained at 10 until two minutes remained, when Ripon Christian’s Ellen Blankers scored on a fast break and drew a foul. She stepped to the line with a chance to cut the lead to seven.
Blankers missed the free throw, but Broker snagged the rebound and the Knights suddenly had a chance to trim the deficit to six, or even five with a three-pointer. However, Ripon Christian turned over the ball with an errant pass.
The Knights eventually trimmed the lead to seven, but by that time too much time had run off the clock.
All told, Ripon Christian committed 34 turnovers to just 13 by the Cougars. That negated the Knights’ 44-29 edge in rebounding.
Pamela Radach, who led Ripon Christian with 12 points, fouled out after just 11:25 of court time.
“Once Pam fouled out, we lost our inside game,” Mulder said. “They didn’t really have an answer for her.”
Nor did Ripon Christian have an answer for Capital Christian’s Nicole Colbert, who led all scorers with 18. Colbert scored her team’s first six points with two free throws, a driving layup and a 15-foot jumper.
“This was really a battle between their speed and our size,” Mulder said. “And speed won out.”
Ripon Christian’s season will continue as all section semifinalists qualify for the Northern California Regional tournament. The Knights will learn their fate when the pairings are released Sunday.