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Bruins Win Come-From-Behind Thriller
With 9.9 seconds glistening from the scoreboard in the Riverbank High gym, the varsity boys basketball team huddled just past mid court attempting to draw up a play that could erase the outcome of the team's lackluster performance and the Bruins found their answer when sophomore Zach Gonzales scored his biggest bucket of the season in Riverbank's 34-33 win over Linden.

Linden had already strolled off with victories over Trans-Valley League counterparts Hughson and Ripon Christian, so the Bruins were forced to go into the miracle bag and send the Lions home with the loss.

"Offensively we missed a lot of shots," Riverbank head coach Jeff Jennings said. "We had a lot of good looks, so offensively when you do that it makes it kind of a challenge. Defensively we were able to keep ourselves in the game and give ourselves a chance to win.

"And that's what it came down to."

Riverbank had not been able to put forth any consistency on the offensive end throughout the contest, but the Bruins found a way to get things going just after the ten-minute mark of the fourth period. Riverbank defender Jose Moreno banged inside with Linden's 6-foot-5-plus big men, proving that it takes more than height to be productive in the paint. When Riverbank clawed its way back into the contest, it was behind the intense effort of Moreno and company on the glass.

The Bruins were able to hang around with a strong Linden team, trailing by as many as nine late in the third period, but staying close was not going to be enough for the determined varsity squad. Riverbank would have to execute over the game's final 10 seconds and that is exactly what the Bruins did.

Riverbank's enthusiastic crowd fell into an uncomfortable buzz as the team prepared for its final opportunity to knock off Linden in their own gym. Gonzales held the ball at the top of the key before driving down the baseline and then slashing to the rim for the go-ahead lay-up.

"Basically, we wanted to get him going to the basket," Jennings said. "With a one point game, we told him you're either going to get fouled or you're going to score. He struggled a little bit offensively all night, he had some good looks but couldn't get them to drop," Jennings explained. "But the biggest shot of the game he hit."

The Bruins closed off the Lions' last hope when the inbounds pass was intercepted, sending the Riverbank faithful into pandemonium.

"We have some really great fans, we've always had," Jennings said. "They are true basketball fans, so that really makes it nice. The past couple of years we haven't given them a whole lot to be excited about and now we're starting to get more and more people out there.

"People are paying their money to come out so we have to give them a good product."

The Bruins will look to continue their strong push to close out the non-league schedule as they travel to Calaveras to take on the Redskins on Friday, Jan 16. Riverbank will look to avenge an early season 53-36 loss to the Redskins before opening the TVL schedule with a road trip to Ripon to take on the Ripon Christian Knights on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Both contests are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.