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Bruins Lose To MC, But Take Third In SJS Power Ratings
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Modesto Christian High's varsity boys basketball team may have brought fans to Friday's Riverbank Homecoming game at the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium, but they stood out nearly as poorly as Waldo. The Bruin cheering section seemed to extend wall-to-wall along packed bleachers, and included a loud and animated student section just beyond the south hoop. Riverbank players rallied behind a boisterous home court atmosphere with a 19-15 fourth quarter, but fell just short in a 59-54 defeat to the longtime Sac-Joaquin Section power Crusaders.

The margin of victory tied Modesto Christian's lowest since the program joined the Trans-Valley League in 2006-07 and was their second single digit win in as many games, just getting past Escalon 57-51 on Tuesday. They beat Riverbank 84-79 a season ago.

"At this point we are not happy with playing close games with MC anymore," Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said. "We felt we could have won and we had some opportunities.

"We came out poised and played confident and if we could have got a couple of shots to fall, who knows what would have happened."

The Crusaders led just 23-21 at the half, but opened things up with hot shooting beyond the arc in the third quarter for a 21-14 rally. Riverbank re-gained momentum in the fourth, but couldn't find enough late shots to take the lead.

The Bruins were scorned by a 21-point performance by Modesto Christian's Tyrus Rattler. Kenny Veliz scored 15 points for Riverbank while Rolaun Dunham (11), Anthony Navarette (10) and Alex Reynaga (10) all touched double digit scoring. Dunham nabbed seven rebounds while Robert Martinez (two points) had six boards. The Riverbank crowd was a constant hindrance to Crusader players, and gave Bruin coaches a good look at the type of atmosphere they can expect if Riverbank hosts a playoff game this season.

"It was definitely an electrifying experience," Jennings said. "We always wondered what it would be like to pack that place and that was the first time we have been able to do that in the new gym.

"We chose Modesto Christian as our homecoming game to create that playoff vibe and atmosphere." The Sac-Joaquin Section released the Division IV power ratings on Monday, and has Riverbank (17-2 overall, 5-2 TVL) listed as the No. 3 team in the division.

The top 16 teams reach the postseason and top eight host the first round, so a top-four seed would guarantee an opportunity to host back-to-back playoff games.

Maintaining the No. 3 seed gives Riverbank a chance to face the likes of No. 2 Bret Harte (16-4, 9-0 Mother Lode League) in the SJS semifinals. Riverbank beat Bret Harte 51-42 in the preseason.

"We have to take care of business to stay top-four," Jennings said on Monday. "That's our goal."

Riverbank hosted the No. 6 team in the D-IV power ratings (Escalon) on Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.

The Bruins are at Orestimba on Friday.