RIPLEY - Coach Mark Wayne's Ripley Middle School hoopsters hosted the Madison Middle Skyhawks for the blue and white's first game of the season. It would be the Skyhawks fourth contest in 2012-'13.
The contest kicked off with a bang and the game never relinquished the excitement. Ripley jumped out to a quick lead thanks to three 3-three point goals from sharp shooting guard Jamison Hunt, eight tough points in the post from Nathan Hall and a trey from Elijah Riffe. The Vikes led 24-17 in what looked like a barn burner in the making.
"Madison has some good athletes and they are well coached. The play hard and they attack the dribble. Eli Casto (point guard) did a tremendous job for us protecting the ball and finding his teammates," said Wayne.
The Vikings took a slim 39-33 lead to the locker room at halftime.
Madison continued to press in the second half and the Vikings continued to beat that press to the bucket for points.
The Vikes led 54-41 at the end of the third. The lead would be cut to single digits briefly before Hunt, Riffe, Lane Casto and Nathan Hall hit key free throws down the stretch to ground the Skyhawks, 71-58.
For Ripley, Hunt would lead the way with 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting with three steals and two assists. Nathan Hall scored 17 and pulled down eight boards. Riffe netted eight points but did his damage deep in the scorebook. He yanked down nine boards, seven steals and dished out seven assists. Eli Casto had four points, three assists, two steals and three rebounds. Lane Casto had seven points, five rebounds and an assist.
Madison was led by Alan Johnson's 22 and Andrew Day's 17.
In the jayvee preliminary, Ripley was victorious 43-37.
J.T. Rollins led the way with 16, Garrett Roberson nine, Connor Isner seven, Todd Withrow four, Griffin Durst four and sixth grader Cody Ramsey made his first shot of his career with a majestic, arching 3-point bomb that helped lead his team to victory.