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Bruin Boys Claim First Place In Hoops Tip Off Tournament
The graduation of three starters from last year's varsity boys basketball team did little to stifle the 2012-13 Riverbank High Bruins during their host Ron Peterson Tip Off Tournament from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 at the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium.

Riverbank cruised past Denair in the tournament opener, outlasted Mother Lode League favorite Summerville in the semifinals and outplayed reigning Southern League champ and section finalist, Ripon Christian, in the title game.

The win granted the Bruins a third consecutive championship in their season-opening tournament and provided a first look at the Riverbank squad that plays without 2011-12 senior starters Alex Reynaga, Robert Martinez and Antony Navarrette.

In their absence, the Bruins displayed a different style of play, with a tenacious full-court press, quick transitions and sharp movement across the floor with a guard-heavy lineup.

In the end, Kenny Veliz landed tournament MVP honors while Rolaun Dunham and Markus Benson captured All-Tournament recognition.

"It's a different team, but you see a lot of the same characteristics as last year's team," Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said. "We definitely want to make it an up and down game.

"We have a culture created by how hard we play and how hard we compete. I'm impressed at this point with how unselfish these kids play."

Riverbank bested Denair 55-22 in the tournament opener, but ran into a buzz saw with talented Summerville in the semifinals. The Bears sport several players at over six feet in height and run the post with the strength and size of 6-6 and 6-5 talent.

Riverbank's tallest player, Armando Manriquez, is just 6-3 and nursing an offseason injury. With Summerville crashing to the hoop, Riverbank rallied to nab loose balls and play tough on the perimeter, ultimately nailing down a thrilling 68-65 win. Veliz scored 22 points in the victory while Dunham scored 18 and Benson 12. Reilly Nabors contributed eight points while Luis Solorio chipped in four and Tristan Rodgers, Trey Jones added two each.

The victory propelled Riverbank to the title game, where a 27-16 lead at the half gave way to a 52-42 win over the Knights. Veliz scored 15 in the win while Dunham and Benson added 12 apiece. Nabors chipped in nine.

Riverbank's junior varsity team went 3-0 to win their own bracket in the neighboring gym. Riverbank is at Gustine on Friday.