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Bruins Bounce Back
Three straight losses in Trans Valley League play dealt a staggering blow to Riverbank High's varsity girls basketball team this month, but the Lady Bruins bounced back with a pivotal 55-51 victory over Hughson on Jan. 17 to remain firmly in postseason contention.

The Bruins were at league-leading state juggernaut, Modesto Christian, on Tuesday, but host Escalon in a TVL meeting of the upmost importance Thursday, Jan. 24.

Both Riverbank and Escalon sport just two conference victories and desperately need to gain ground on the likes of MC (5-0), Ripon (4-1) and Hilmar (3-2). Escalon beat Riverbank 44-39 on Jan. 7 to kick off the Bruins three-game slide.

"I believe all the teams we lost to were beatable," Riverbank coach Tim Carnes said. "Escalon was a fluke. Hilmar was a good team it took us a while to figure out, but I think we can beat them. Ripon was the most together team, but also beatable."

Riverbank will need to avenge its prior losses in the second half of conference play, or they could be staring at a potential 4-8 league record and likely exclusion from the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time in three years,

"We were in the same position last year in reference to wins, but we had to win out last year to (play at home in the first round)," Carnes said. "Right now we have to win out just to make the playoffs."

The Bruins were outscored in every quarter during a 56-43 loss to Ripon on Jan. 14, allowing a spectacular game-high 24 points from Indians' senior Ruth Waters (also had six steals).

Three days later, a 23-22 lead at halftime over Hughson suddenly turned into a fourth quarter deficit after the Huskies rolled to a 19-15 rally in the third quarter.

Riverbank scrambled to stun Hughson for an 18-9 fourth-quarter rally to steal the win.

Olivia Luu netted 24 points in the win while Vanessa Vargas pushed through with 13 and Janelle Luu chipped in 16.

The Bruins have seen increased production from the rest of the roster, with an ever-improving offensive role handed to Vargas.

She scored 19 against Hilmar and Carnes said she's capable of around 20 points a game if she gets the touches.

Carnes also noted the improved production of Raine Gallagher off the bench.