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Bruin Boys Advance To Section Semifinals
Bruin Rolaun Dunham goes strong to the basket against Lathrop on Friday night, helping propel the Riverbank varsity boys to the semifinal round of the playoffs with a 62-56 victory. - photo by Ric McGinnis/The News

With a pair of home court wins to start the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs, the Bruin varsity basketball boys head out on the road for a game at Tokay High School in Lodi tonight, March 5.

The Bruins hosted 14th ranked Summerville in the first round on Wednesday, Feb. 26 and dumped the Bears by a 70-48 final.

Riverbank had just a four-point lead after one, 20-16 but turned up the heat a little in the second to stretch it to a 38-28 lead at the half.

“We know Summerville, we knew what to expect,” Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said of hosting the squad. “They were the team that beat us last year in the semifinals and they went on to win the Section title so that was a bit of a motivating factor.”

This season, Riverbank came in as the number 3 seed to Summerville’s 14 and the Bruins definitely had the upper hand.

“Our only question mark was Rolaun’s ankle and how it would hold up,” Jennings said of senior standout Rolaun Dunham, still on the mend from a late season ankle injury. “He did well and in the second half we really stepped it up defensively.

“We were able to build and sustain a lead on them.”

Riverbank outscored Summerville 32-20 over the final 16 minutes to put the game out of reach.

Dunham had 19 points, Curtis Porter III added 11 and Tristin Rodgers had 10, while Angel Esquivel pulled down nine rebounds.

Friday night, the quarterfinals brought sixth seeded Lathrop to town, with plenty of fans and a cheer squad to rival the home town effort.

“They’re very athletic and we had a packed house, they brought a rooter’s bus, it was an electrifying atmosphere,” said Jennings. “Nerve wracking for a coach but great for the fans.”

Riverbank found themselves down by nine points at the half, trailing 31-22, but after Lathrop scored the first two points of the second half, the Bruins regained their composure and started the comeback.

“We went on a run in the second half, built up a 10-point lead and were able to hold them off,” Jennings said.

A 19-8 run in the third quarter put Riverbank up 41-39 after three and they stayed a few points better, 21-17, than Lathrop in the fourth to seal the win, 62-56.

Dunham had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Reilly Nabors poured in 18 points and Porter had 13.

“Now we play Natomas out of Sacramento, at 9 p.m. Wednesday,” Jennings said of the semifinal round. “They are very athletic, all the teams in Division 4 this year, it’s a very competitive field.”

Only the top four seeds remain; number one seed Encina faces number four Colfax at 7:30 p.m. on March 5 in one semifinal, Riverbank (3) faces Natomas (2) at 9 p.m., with the winners of those two games meeting for the Section title in a 3 p.m. game Saturday, March 8 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

“Having been there the last two years, hopefully the experience will be a factor in our favor,” Jennings said of being back in the semifinals.

The Bruins, by making the semifinals, also qualify for the NorCals and will play in that tournament next Wednesday, March 12.