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Bruin Basketball Girls Looking For Turnaround
During the grand opening of Riverbank High's new state-of-the-art gymnasium, Lady Bruins basketball coach Tim Carnes overheard an RHS administrator observe that all Riverbank needed now was some Trans-Valley League championship banners to fill up the walls.

But like Carnes has said, "Let's not get ahead of ourselves."

The Bruins hoops program is reeling from back-to-back disastrous seasons with dominating losses in both preseason and TVL play.

The varsity girls team was 2-20 last year and finished 1-26 the year prior with a 1,372-2,620 total deficit in points scored across the two seasons. Riverbank has lost 17 straight, including a 99-8 blowout loss to perennial Sac-Joaquin Section contender, Modesto Christian, in the second-to-last game of the previous season.

But that's just the bad news.

The good news is the Bruins enter the season with good signs of stability and improvement with Carnes, last year's junior varsity coach, directing varsity play.

The first-year varsity coach directed most of the squad in lower level action during their underclassmen years, and he knows what he has to work with in a season that he hopes will turn around the recent trend of losses.

"If they get serious  and I think they will  we have a shot at the playoffs," Carnes said. "Patience is the biggest thing right now. If we don't get in a hurry and run our half court offense then we will do pretty good."

Carnes is hoping for big offensive production from returning seniors Jessica Hutson (5-foot-7) and Veronica Lopez (5-7) in the post, with senior guard Nia Zamora looking to turn her track speed into big defensive plays and fast-breaks in transition.

Junior point guard Kaitlynn Deabenderfer will be the focal point of Riverbank's push up the floor after a successful junior varsity season that saw her earn an All Tourney MVP honor at the Le Grand Invitational last season.

Aimee Felix had no trouble scoring last year on the JV squad, and will be leaned on for more of the same in her first varsity season.

Riverbank's tallest player is just 5-10, so the Lady Bruins will have a tough task limiting big TVL forwards in the paint. Deabenderfer will likely be forced to leave her post at the top of the key to tackle big league forwards like Modesto Christian's Danielle Thompson (6-1) near the hoop.

"How many teams have a point guard that can also pick up the other teams' biggest player on defense?" Carnes said. "Kaitlynn is tough and she can do everything on the court."

The Bruins have the difficult task of matching up against some of the better small school programs in the area. Modesto Christian has made the SJS title game in four consecutive seasons, including three victories and last year's 57-40 victory over Linden in the Division IV finals.

The Crusaders ultimately won three more games in NorCal play to earn a bid to the state finals, where they fell 54-51 to Mater Dei.

Riverbank kicked off the season Tuesday with a home bout against Denair, and hosts Division I Johansen in the program's Foundation game on Monday.