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Bruin Alumni Basketball Tournament Returns To Court For Second Year
It's time to stretch both hamstrings, dig for those faded Bruin basketball shorts underneath a pile of parachute pants in your garage and work on free throws - because basketball is back in session on the Riverbank High court. Current and former Riverbank boys basketball players will tip off a tournament-style alumni weekend on July 23 and 24, in the second installment of a likely annual affair for Bruin alumnus.

"It's an opportunity for all different generations to come together and celebrate Riverbank basketball," Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said. "Last year it was a lot of fun, but I think every store in the Riverbank area sold out of Bengay."

The 2009 alumni tournament saw light after the new Riverbank gymnasium didn't see an opening until the basketball season was already over. With Bruin seniors itching for a chance to break in the new arena, Riverbank Booster Club members came up with the idea to give past and present Riverbank players a shot at the new stomping grounds.

Word spread quickly, allowing for 10 full teams to form and wage battle over two days of action. A handful of members of the 2001 Sac-Joaquin Section Champion team (including a couple of All District honorees) even formed a squad. But the former champs settled for runner-up honors when Jennings, Chris Gonzales, Hector Duarte and a few others pulled off the upset in the tournament's second day.

"The games are very competitive," Jennings said. "We don't run the fast break; we run the slow break. But it feels fast when we do it."

Jennings expects players to flood in from as far south as San Diego, and add to the already growing list of 2010 attendees. The event saw over 20 alumni make the trip last year for a fundraiser that earned over $1800 for the Bruin hoops program and another $500 from the snack bar for the Riverbank Alumni Scholarship Fund.

"It was something that we brought together on a very short notice, but it had a really good turnout," Jennings said. "What also surprised me was how many spectators we had. A lot of people just wanted to see some of the Bruins of old back on the court again."

John Hedlund and Miguel Zamora, both 1986 Bruin graduates, saw third place honors in last year's tournament, both admitting the game was a rare opportunity to get a quality workout in.

"For some of us, it's the only time we can get out and get some real exercise in," Zamora said. "One more year means one more opportunity for that."

"For me, it was just really nice to come back to the school and see some of the same guys I used to play with," Hedlund added. "It brings back a lot of memories."

The session of games will be available for spectators for just $2 per person. The contests kick off with afternoon games on Friday, July 23 and a morning start on Saturday, July 24.

"Last year we saw something that we can build into a yearly thing," Jennings said. "Hopefully this is around for years to come."