SACRAMENTO — A 14-3 run in the final minutes of Saturday afternoon’s CIF Division IV Championship broke open a back-and-forth game and gave the Ribet Fighting Frogs a 69-63 win over Immanuel, sealing a state championship for a team that won just one game a year ago.
With new head coach Reggie Howard, a brand-new staff and a roster full of transfers, the Frogs were able to quickly construct a top team, and that team was able to finally pull away to win a game that had seen 16 lead changes and six ties.
Aside from an early 10-3 Ribet lead, the teams were inseparable for the better part of three quarters,, and even after the Frogs took a 44-37 lead late in the third, their foes from the outskirts of the Fresno area responded with a 7-0 run to tie it, with Jordan Rodriguez draining a 3-pointer from beyond the NBA line and Kaleb Daglish evening the score with a jumper from the free throw line. Barrington Hargress scored off a turnover, one of Ribet’s 16 steals on the day, to put his team back on top, but a designed play after a TV timeout gave Winston Williams an open layup to tie the game.
It would be the last time Immanuel (26-9) drew even. On a day where the Frogs shot just 3-for-19 on threes, Tyler Powell hit one from the corner to give his team the lead for good. Xavier Williams hit a jumper from the free throw line to bring the lead to five, and a layup by Snookey Wigington made it 53-46. Though 13 of Snookey’s 19 points came in the first half, his six late points were critical.
It was a big day all around for the Wigington family, with Snookey’s father, Pookey, an assistant on Howard’s coaching staff. Pookey’s younger son, Tookey, is playing in the Open Division Championship to wrap up the night for Sierra Canyon. After Daglish missed two free throws, Snookey drove to the hoop to put the Frogs up nine, and an unforced turnover, one of the 23 times Immanuel gave the ball up on the day, led to a pair of Powell free throws for Ribet’s first double-digit lead of the day.
Powell scored 15 despite going just 1-for-7 on threes, with his one make coming when it was needed most.
“Our goal is to hold teams to 44 points,” Howard said. “You can never replicate the exact same shot, but you can replicate defense.”
Though the Eagles did shoot 41.7% from the field and 36.8% on threes, Ribet (27-3) was able to stay in a tight game with turnovers before finally hitting a few shots to put the game away. Hargress was the third weapon to join Powell and Wigington, shooting just 1-for-5 in the first half but finishing the day with 10 points off the bench.
One of the few non-transfers at Ribet, Hargress was still a fresh face, finishing his freshman year with a bang.
His performance was one of the biggest reasons the Frogs were able to cap off their astronomical climb while Immanuel’s run ended short.
“Our big thing is getting stops and buckets,” head coach Chris Woods said. “Whether it’s a turnover or forcing a bad shot, we have to turn around and capitalize on it, and there was a stretch in the where we didn’t do that.”
The Eagles still went deeper in the state tournament than any prior team had, and with 46 wins in Woods’ first two seasons, the future is bright for a sophomore-heavy team.
“These guys have such a high basketball IQ, and the coaching staff puts in hours to add to the gameplan,” Woods said. “It’s a combination of a good coaching staff working hard and guys that can just go out and execute.”
One of the three sophomores in the starting lineup, Shawn Rodgers, led Immanuel with 14 points, while the two seniors, Daglish and Rodriguez, each scored 10.
“They’re very talented and they practice just as hard as the seniors,” Daglish said of the sophomore class.