Whatever the Ripon High School Tiger boys’ basketball team ate, or maybe didn’t eat, was evident early last week Friday.

   The Tigers came out hungry on both ends of the floor against neighboring Laconia as they jumped out to a 31-17 halftime lead en route to a 64-57 road win.

    Ripon head coach Steve Brooks attributed the success to the defense his team played in the first half.

   It didn’t allow Laconia (7-2 overall) to score its first basket until more than five minutes into the game and closed out the final eight minutes of the first half on a 16-3 run to take the big advantage

   “If you look back at our wins that we’ve had this year, it’s been the defensive energy that’s helped us and sparked us,” Brooks said. “… Especially on the road, you have to start games with that energy and you have to match the intensity of the opponent, which I thought we did. We won that game in the first half with our defensive effort.”

   He added that all of his players did well defensively, but Cody Merrill especially stood out. According to Brooks, the senior was all over the court for the Tigers, his hands were on the basketball and he was putting his body on the line.

Read the full story, which include information on a hot-shooting first half and struggles from the free-throw line in the second, in the Jan. 4, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.