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Bruin Varsity Boys Open TVL At 1-1
And so the battles begin.

A 70-53 loss to Modesto Christian and 58-52 win over Escalon tipped off the first two games of action for previously unbeaten Riverbank (13-1) in Trans-Valley League play.

The Bruins hosted lowly Orestimba (2-14) on Tuesday, but on Friday begin a grueling pace of five tough games against some of the best small school teams in the section across a span of 18 days.

How Riverbank performs in those five games and in their last three contests of the regular season in early February will determine potential placement into the postseason bracket.

Riverbank struggled against perennial power, MC, on Jan. 3, but found strong offensive production from Rolaun Dunham (15 points), Kenny Veliz (14), Alex Reynaga (12) and Anthony Navarette (eight).

The Bruins fired back three days later in Cougar territory with a late surge to quell a comeback that gave Escalon a fourth quarter lead despite a 12-point Riverbank advantage at the half.

The Bruins capitalized on late Escalon turnovers and sunk their final free throws to preserve the lead.

Veliz sunk back-to-back three-pointers in the second quarter and landed a game-high 16 points. Dunham also scored 15 and displayed another solid performance at the foul line.

"When you get a win at Escalon, you have earned it," Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said. "Any road game in league is tough, but it has always been a challenge for us to get wins there."

The first release of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV power ratings is expected on Jan 30. The top 16 teams in the ratings will make the postseason, while the top eight teams host a first round contest.

Coach Jennings has long maintained that he hopes for Riverbank to host a playoff game in front of the Bruins always-boisterous fan base, and 2012 represents an excellent opportunity for that if Riverbank can stay among the top few teams in the league standings.

"We definitely need to be a little more consistent," Jennings said. "We get leads but for some reason let teams crawl back in it and then have to put forth energy to put them away."

Junior Varsity

The junior varsity Bruins were tied with Escalon with under a minute to play, but capitalized on a collective 8-for-10 effort from the free throw line in the final moments to claim a 64-58 win over the host Cougars.

Riverbank trailed 16-10 after a quarter and fired back with a 37-32 rally in the second half. Tristan Rodgers scored 19 points for the Bruins while Angel Esquivel (10), Reilly Nabors (eight), Jonathon Beliera (eight) and Freddie Capas (six) also attacked the hoop well.

Riverbank is 9-4 on the season.

The freshmen were big winners, 84-55 over the host Cougars on Friday as well.