The exploits of the 2012-13 Riverbank High boys basketball team may have ended with a 63-59 loss to third seeded Marin Catholic in the first round of the NorCal state basketball playoffs on March 6, but the legend of an undersized and over-performing group of Bruin students will live on forever.
Featuring a lineup that never eclipsed 6 feet, 3 inches, the Bruins rallied to a 24-5 season with a stunning 1831-1444 ratio of scoring.
Three of their losses came to teams still alive in the state playoffs as of Tuesday and four were NorCal qualifiers. The Bruins were bold, they were brilliant and even in defeat — they were buoyant.
“NorCals was a validation of where we are as a program and what we need to do to get over the hump,” Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said. “I think for us, we have got to see more of that NorCal-type competition.”
Marin Catholic was a heavy favorite from the North Coast Section Division IV bracket that included NorCal D-IV No. 1 seed, Cardinal Newman (30-3), and NorCal Open Division No. 1 seed, Salesian (30-3).
Riverbank led Marin Catholic with a minute to play, but couldn’t keep the margin and surrendered a loss to a team that went on to ease past Central Coast champ, Menlo, three days later in NorCals quarterfinal round.
For Riverbank, the loss was eerily similar to when they fell just 50-48 to favored St. Patrick/St. Vincent in the NorCal opener in 2012. The only difference — Marin Catholic was seeded third and St. Patrick/St. Vincent was seeded sixth.
“We knew going in that Marin was a very good team that was very well coached and would be tough to beat on the road,” Jennings said. “We need to do a better job with our scheduling to expose us to that caliber of team.
“There is no doubt we can play with them.”
The Bruins graduate 10 seniors, but return a strong trio in juniors Rolaun Dunham, Tristan Rodgers and Reilly Nabors. Jennings said he plans to put the 2013-14 Bruins through a vigorous summer and tough nonleague schedule to prepare them for next year.