Coasting to a Tuesday win at home against Hilmar, the Riverbank varsity Bruin basketball boys then went to Ripon and came away with a 10-point victory on Friday.
The wins kept the Bruins solidly in second place in the Trans-Valley League with the season winding down, second only to undefeated Modesto Christian.
At home against Hilmar on Feb. 4, the Bruins had an easy 67-32 win, roaring out to a 15-2 lead in the first quarter, 28-9 at the half, limiting the Yellowjackets to single digit scoring in each of the first two quarters.
They didn’t let up after the half, Riverbank exploding with a 26-point third quarter. Hilmar found their shooting range and knocked down 16 points in that frame as well, but it wasn’t enough to catch the host Bruins. Riverbank ended the game with a 13-7 run in the fourth for the 67-32 final.
Rolaun Dunham had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead the way for the varsity squad, with Reilly Nabors adding 12 points and seven rebounds in a well-rounded effort. Nestor Morales had eight points, Angel Esquivel and Ylii Lopez added six points apiece.
“Everyone got to play against Hilmar,” said Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings. “I was very happy with our focus and our attention to detail. It’s a great feeling to have 15 players all on the same page.”
Hitting the road on Friday, Feb. 7, the Riverbank team faced off with a determined host Ripon squad and had just a 2-point lead at the half, 33-31, before slowly extending the lead and coming home with a 66-56 win.
Ripon came out fast, taking a 21-16 first quarter lead, but the Bruins answered back and outscored the Indians 17-10 in the second to grab the lead. The teams battled back and forth in the third, Riverbank scoring 14 and Ripon 13, and the Bruins added a few extra points, including some free throws, in the fourth in a 19-12 scoring edge to take the win.
“The Ripon game was a tough one,” admitted Jennings. “They played very well. It was one of those games that make a team better by fighting through adversity. We were down in the first quarter and had to battle back plus Reilly Nabors didn’t play due to an injury and he had been playing phenomenally lately.”
The Bruins got contributions from other players that were asked to step up in Nabors’ absence.
“Ylii Lopez filled in as a starter and did really well. Nestor Morales came off the bench to give us some great minutes which is good news for us going forward,” Jennings said. “Rolaun had a tremendous game offensively and defensively. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s the best player in our area.”
Dunham’s stellar effort on Friday night saw him ending the game with 25 points and 14 rebounds. He was 5-for-9 at the free throw line. Close behind was Curtis Porter III with 21 points, going 7-for-8 from the free throw line on the night. Lopez poured in nine points and Tristin Rodgers pulled down 10 rebounds for the Bruins as they improved to 9-1 in TVL play. Their showdown with top dog Modesto Christian comes this Friday night on the home court, the Valentine’s Day contest on Feb. 14 sure to bring plenty of fans in to the Bruins Den. The regular season finale will see the Bruins host the Hughson Huskies on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
They were also scheduled to play at Patterson on Tuesday, Feb. 11 after The News went to press, taking on the Tigers in a non-league contest.
“It should be a real competitive game,” Jennings said of facing Patterson. “I wanted a game like that going into playoffs to help prepare us. We are hoping to make a deep run in playoffs.”