SALIDA -- There's no secret the key to staying close to Modesto Christian is limiting the number of times Reeves Nelson touches the ball.
So that's the way Ripon High began its Trans-Valley League showdown Saturday night, blanketing the talented junior with two or three players. But as soon as that method began to work, Daniel Lemburg shot a hole in the strategy.
Lemburg scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, in the opening quarter, and the Crusaders were off and running to a 100-68 victory to move to 8-0 in TVL play, 15-4 overall. The Indians, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped, fell to 7-1 and 12-8.
Once Lemburg began to hit from the outside, Nelson found room to roam in the paint, and he responded with an impressive triple-double performance of 38 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.
Guard D.J. Seeley missed the game with a sprained ankle and the flu.
"Daniel's an excellent shooter, although sometimes he hesitates because he wants to get Reeves and D.J. involved in the offense," said MC coach Gary Porter. "But him hitting those shots early was a key for us tonight."
Lemburg finished with 18 points, four more than his average, and said he's getting used to seeing the kind of defensive strategy used by Ripon.
"All the time, every team we play wants a piece of Reeves, and he's so good at getting the ball back out to us," Lemburg said.
Lemburg is living somewhat of a dream senior season. He was a ball boy for the team as a sixth-grader, then attended Big Valley Christian in the seventh grade before coming back to Modesto Christian.
"I got a lot of playing time last year, but this is a much better situation for me this year," Lemburg said. "This is really fun for me, since I've seen so many great players -- guys I look up to -- play in this program."
Lemburg had two of his 3-pointers during a 14-0 spurt that turned a 13-12 Ripon lead into a 26-13 MC advantage with 7:06 left in the first half. Nelson had 14 points in the second quarter, eight in the third and 11 in the fourth before heading to the bench with 4:37 remaining.
Matt Ratto had 22 points and Ryan Baker 11 for Ripon, which despite the lopsided nature of the loss was praised by its coach Rod Wright.
"That's as good as we can play," Wright said. "Our plan was to take the ball right at Nelson and it didn't matter because he's just that much better than everyone else on the floor."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.