Ripon head coach Ryan Kane clenches his fists in celebration after Ryan Steffes gave the Red Hawks a 70-67 lead over UW-La Crosse with a little more than a minute left.
Ripon head coach Ryan Kane clenches his fists in celebration after Ryan Steffes gave the Red Hawks a 70-67 lead over UW-La Crosse with a little more than a minute left.

   More than a game and a half into his collegiate career, Ryan Steffes still was looking for his first points last week Saturday.

   The Ripon College freshman picked a good time to find them.

   He scored nine points in the final eight minutes, which included a game-winning 3-pointer with a little more than a minute remaining, to propel the Red Hawks to a 61-57 victory over the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Eagles.

   “His first game, he played the majority of the game — didn’t turn the ball over, didn’t play poorly, but didn’t make a shot, so he didn’t score in his first college game,” Ripon College head coach Ryan Kane said of Steffes, “And then he picks up two fouls [early] in the first half against La Crosse. With about eight minutes to go in the game, he hit a free throw. I turned to our staff and said, ‘I think that’s his first points ever.’ And then he does that the rest of the game, which is remarkable.”

   Steffes’ heroics helped Ripon record its first win over the Eagles since the 2004-05 season, a stretch that spans five games.
It also is its second-straight win over a UW school as it knocked off No. 4-ranked Oshkosh last year.

   Steffes also made sure the Red Hawks didn’t lose back-to-back games to open the season in which they led by double digits in the first half. They squandered a 14-point lead a week earlier in a 74-67 road loss to the Wheaton Thunder.

   “We talked about trying to grow old fast and we did that,” Kane said. “We were able to take a punch from those guys and were able to punch back this time. I felt like we had a great week of preparation. Our second group has continually improved every day and continues to push our first group. Whenever we’ve had a second group that can stimulate game-like situations in practice, you just get that much better — and that’s what happened.”

Read the full story, which includes information on a strong defensive performance, in the Nov. 22, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.