Hadley Neper goes up for a basket as Elle Lewis (4) watches.
Hadley Neper goes up for a basket as Elle Lewis (4) watches.

   Facing a team it knew it could beat, the Ripon High School girls’ basketball team was punched in the mouth early Tuesday night.

   It fell behind the winless Wautoma Hornets (0-6 overall) 13-4 around five minutes in and appeared out of sorts on offense.

   The Tigers didn’t let the start deflate their confidence, however, as they responded with a 16-3 run to close the second half and cruised to a 58-38 victory at home.

   “That kind of goes with the culture I’m trying to establish: that never give up mentality, the ‘we need to work harder than our opponents are willing to work’ [mindset],” Ripon head coach Jesse Nodolf said. “We talked about [being] up 30 or down 30 ... the effort has to be greater than our opponent, and then good things happen.”

   Helping Ripon (2-3 overall) break out of its slump was the coach’s daughter, McKenzie Nodolf.

   The sophomore hustled for several 50/50 balls and came up with a number of offensive rebounds.

   She also broke the Tigers’ nearly five-minute scoring drought with a free throw and then added a basket less than a minute later to help them close to within 13-8.

   “Those are things we talk about,” Jesse Nodolf said about the hustle plays his daughter made. “Those are the stats that we don’t record ... but they’re more valuable than some of the statistics people are more concerned about because those type of plays allow our team to be successful on offense.”

   They were contagious as well as the entire team started feeding off of them, which helped Ripon go on the 16-3 run to end the half.

Read the full story in the Dec. 6, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.