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No. 3 U-Prep boys squeeze out CIF D-IV state win over No. 14 Ripon 46-42

Sometimes the shots don’t fall early on, but you just keep shooting.After capturing The Northern Section Division IV title on Friday, the University Prep Panthers earned themselves the No. 3 seed and a home game in the CIF D-IV State Playoffs against No. 14 Ripon.

U-Prep’s Trevor Jones, pictured from Friday night’s NSCIF D-IV championship, scored 10 points for the Panthers in the win over Ripon in the CIF D-IV state playoffs Tuesday night. (Photo by Eddie Saltzman)

Sometimes the shots don’t fall early on, but you just keep shooting.

After capturing The Northern Section Division IV title on Friday, the University Prep Panthers earned themselves the No. 3 seed and a home game in the CIF D-IV State Playoffs against No. 14 Ripon.

Tuesday night’s matchup saw a tale of two halves as University Prep’s first half struggles seemed to disappear in the second half. The Panther’s would get a 13-point third quarter boost from reigning Northern Athletic League MVP Jordan Miller to knock off No. 14 Ripon 46-42 to earn the first state playoff win in program history. All basketball playoff coverage presented by Redding Rancheria.

“You know shots don’t always fall but we said just keep shooting and eventually they’ll go down. Why not us, just one game at a time. We have confidence in ourselves so we just go out there and play hard.” said U-Prep’s Miller.

The game started out slow… very slow as both teams combined for eight total field goals and seven free-throws, mixed with a handful of turnovers. Ripon’s 6-foot-8 big man Vincent Olmo was the key to a slow paced first half. He scored seven of his 8 points in the half and clogged the paint with three blocks. Although, U-Prep would take the 13-12 advantage going into intermission.

Miller got the offense going for the Panthers in the third quarter. Knocking down a 3-ball out of the break he would follow it up with two more from distance and a pair of difficult layups. Scoring 13 of his (team high) 17 points in the quarter giving the Panthers a 34-27 at the end of the third.

“He came up big for us, he was league MVP last year and had an injury in league and didn’t play as much or as well this year because of that injury but in the last few games he’s stepped up huge for us. Knocking down 3’s, scoring around the basket, and playing great defense. He’s back to his old form now,” said U-Prep head coach Mark Stephens on Miller’s performance.

Ripon would battle back after U-Prep would extend their lead to 11 midway through the fourth, narrowing the margin to five with under two minutes remaining. A layup by Raz Cheema would make it a one possession game but that would be answered by Trevor Jones to give the Panthers a five-point lead with 30 seconds left. Ripon’s Troy Brogan would hit a layup while being fouled but would miss the free-throw to make it a two-point game. A last second potential game-tying 3 for Ripon would be missed and Miller would knock down a free-throw to ice the game. University Prep would win 46-42 and advance to the second round of Division IV CIF State Playoffs.

“I think it was that stretch in that third quarter. I think they hit three or four 3’s in a row and we kind of just got lost on defense and that was the difference really in the game,” said Ripon coach Justin Graham.

For Ripon they found success going to their big man Vincent Olmo in the first half, but the adjustments by head coach Mark Stephens of U-Prep during the second half would help make it difficult for him in the second.

“There was an old very successful coach in the stands behind me and he got word to me to take whoever number 55 (Olmo) was guarding and move that kid in the corner to pull the big guy away from the basket and that was the difference,” Stephens said.

#3 University Prep 46, #14 Ripon 42
Ripon-7-5-15-15—42
U-Prep 5-8-21-12—46
Ripon (19-13): Olmo 17, Brogan 9, Cheema 7, Ilardi 5, Taylor 2, Hernandez 2.
U-Prep (26-6): Miller 17. T. Jones 10, K. Jones 10, Hawes 5, Stephens 4
3-Pointers—Ripon 2 ( Brogan, Ilardi) U-Prep 8 ( Miller 3, K. Jones 2, T.Jones 2, Hawes).

Max is a young up-and-coming journalist who carries shares a die-hard passion for sports with the rest of the SCS team and has loved sports ever since he can remember. He's covered Northern Section championship football and basketball games as well as state playoffs games in his first year as a reporter for SCS. Max is currently enrolled at Shasta College and is working toward his Bachelors Degree in journalism.

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