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I'd Say He Deserved It
He had to win this game.

Make no mistake about it, when the fans were gone and the basketball players were moving on to other sports, Jeff Jennings would have still been haunted.

Although that is far from the case for the Riverbank Bruins boys varsity basketball coach after his team's 50-40 victory over Hughson High in the final hoop contest to be played in the unique Riverbank High gymnasium.

"I am not going to lie," Jennings admitted after the victory. "I really wanted that game. You could tell the kids came out a little tight to begin with, but once we got over the pressure and buckled down defensively we were alright."

This season's squad had the pressure to close out one of the city's most recognized venues on a high note and they shared that pressure with their coach.

Every practice, every conditioning session, every free throw, every game, every loss, every victory all rolled up in one final moment, a moment that Jennings had no choice but to seize.

"I am not really an emotional guy for the most part," Jennings said. "But I've spent a large part of my life in that gym. I played there in youth leagues, open gyms and just a lot of great memories and a lot of great people have come through that gym."

You could see it on his face when they were announcing his seniors. It was evident during the pre-game warm ups. The tenacity he coached with could only be matched if it were for the final Sac-Joaquin Section postseason spot.

This victory was Riverbank's tenth overall on the season, but this win over Hughson stood for way more than another TVL "W."

"I know it might be small and it might be cramped; it may be all of those things," Jennings said of the gym. "But that gym is a special place to a lot of us that have played there."

There may have been a few people in the stands that did not get the complete make-up of the game. A handful of fans may have thought there would be another contest in the Riverbank gym later this week.

But the majority of the people in attendance Feb. 20 knew they were at a special occasion. They could feel the sense of urgency in the air. This was not a Riverbank hoops game; it was THE Riverbank hoops game. A game the Bruins had to win.

A win Jeff Jennings clearly deserved.

Jagada Chambers is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.