RIPON — Outside of tournament season, it's a rare occasion when the best three teams in any one league show up to play on the same court on the same night.
But that's exactly the scenario that played out Friday night at the Ripon Christian High gym, and the best two teams — unfortunately for the Knights — both were wearing Modesto Christian colors in an 81-56 Crusaders' victory.
The all-senior starting five for Modesto Christian had its hands full with the RC starters and at the end of their four shifts on the wood had outscored their hosts by five points.
It was the Crusaders' second team, comprised of three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, that did the most damage. The B shift was on the floor for a 14-0 run over the final two minutes of the second quarter and overall played the Knights to a 20-point advantage.
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"We have a real high-energy team (the second wave) and another team that can do a lot of things if they're shooting well," said MC head coach Gary Porter. "But overall they're two different teams that do different things. It will make next year fun."
But the Crusaders, who improved to 18-8 while finishing off another perfect (10-0) Trans-Valley League season, should have ample fun remaining this season.
On Sunday, they'll discover their seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs. It will be somewhere in the top four, which will guarantee MC two home games as they shoot for an unprecedented 11th straight section title and 13th overall.
The Knights also should garner a top 4 seed, although their's will be in Division 5, as they joust for a 10th section crown and their first since 1996.
And if there's a consolation for RC (19-6, 6-4) from this blowout that concluded the regular-season, it's that the Knights will not face anyone in Division 5 as deep or quick as the Crusaders. Certainly, no one is on the Division 5 horizon that can attack with two complete waves.
"We weren't prepared for that," said Knights' coach Ron VanderMolen. "They depend on turnovers and offensive rebounds, and that's what I told me team we needed to prevent. It was pretty evident that once we started turning the ball over, that was the ballgame."
Ripon Christian committed 30 turnovers, many of them forced by the full-court pressure the Crusaders used throughout the first half. And it was a flurry of miscues that spelled the end of this game.
The Knights handled the pressure and did a good job boxing out on the defensive boards for the opening 14 minutes, staying within 33-28. MC forward Alden Wampler, who led all scorers with 16 points, got inside for a basket with 2:36 left, and moments later was on the bench when the Crusaders platooned.
The fresh legs buried RC before the merciful end of the half, forcing six turnovers and scoring 14 straight points to open a 49-28 halftime lead.
Daniel Van De Pol battled foul trouble, but finished with 13 points for RC, and Logan Vos added 11.
Eleven different players scored for Modesto Christian, the two-headed team that on this night was led by the young team.
"Sometimes, it's that way in practice, but other times the older guys have the advantage because of their experience," Porter said. "The older team knows how to play physical.
"I know one of the teams always will bring me the energy that I need, and sometimes it's the older team and sometimes it's the younger team."