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Bruin Basketball Boys Take Oakdale Rotary Classic Title
Riverbank's varsity Bruins are flying high after an 11-1 finish to the preseason, and culminated their dominant December with an undefeated run through the competitive Oakdale Rotary Classic on Thursday, Dec. 30.

Riverbank ousted host Oakdale in a 62-50 finale to claim championship honors in front of a packed house at the Mustangs' gym.

"That game had a kind of playoff atmosphere to it, and I am really happy with the way we responded," Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said. "I thought we had a chance to be pretty good, but anytime you have a freshman and three juniors starting you think you will play better at the end of the season.

"It all comes back to these guys putting in so much work."

Riverbank faced arguably the three toughest teams of the tourney in back-to-back-to-back nights. They first toppled a team (Ripon Christian) that played at Arco Arena in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals last year, and is considered the Southern League favorite.

Riverbank beat RC by a 46-35 tally, and watched the Knights go on to win a consolation championship. Zack Gonzales scored 19 points in the win (two treys), while Alex Reynaga (eight points), Robert Martinez (six), Antony Navarette (five) and Rolaun Dunham (four) also scored.

Riverbank landed a thrilling 60-54 win over Grace Davis in overtime during the tournament's second round. The Bruins trailed 47-49 with 43 seconds to play in regulation, but saw a heroic drive and score from Reynaga to tie the game. A Navarette defensive rebound with 2.3 seconds remaining in the fourth secured the drive into overtime. In the final four-minute period, Riverbank sank eight of 10 free throws and saw huge offensive rebounds seal the six-point lead as time expired.

Gonzales scored 23 points in the win. Dunham (10), Reynaga (eight), Navarette (six), Robert Martinez (six) and Manuel Jimenez (five) also contributed scores.

Riverbank broke away from a small lead with a huge fourth quarter rally to top Oakdale in the tourney finale the following day. Martinez scored 17 points while Gonzales added 15 and Dunham 12.

Gonzales, whose big points and rebounds led Riverbank through the three games, earned well deserved All Tournament MVP status for his play. Dunham also made the all tournament team.

According to Jennings, the win over Oakdale marked the first time Riverbank has won the Rotary Classic in a long history of attending the tournament.

"I think we just buckled down defensively throughout the tournament," Jennings said. "We made these other teams work with every possession and I think fatigue set in for them."

Riverbank sports the best preseason record of any Trans-Valley League program, but ran into returning section champion and 2-1 state playoff finisher Modesto Christian (8-2) to open league play at home on Tuesday. Results were not available at press time. Riverbank hosts Escalon on Friday.