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Varsity Basketball - Bruins Notch Big Wins Over Orestimba, Escalon
Varsity players gather in a pre-game huddle as the fans in the Bruins Den end of the Fauria gymnasium roar their support as the Homecoming game is about to get under way. Marg Jackson/The News

After going on the road and overwhelming Orestimba, the Riverbank varsity boys came home and had to give it their all to win Friday’s Winter Homecoming game against the visiting Escalon Cougars.

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the boys played to an 81-30 victory over the host Warriors, taking a 25-7 lead in the first quarter and just building on the lead from there. Orestimba never got into double digit scoring in any quarter, managing just 14 points in the first half, 16 in the second. Riverbank’s first quarter scoring was nearly enough to defeat Orestimba, and the Bruins enjoyed a 46-14 lead at the half. They outscored the Warriors 21-8 in the third quarter, 14-8 in the fourth to seal the victory.

Leading the way were Curtis Porter III with 24 points, Rolaun Dunham with 23 and Ylli Lopez with 12, the Bruins also getting eight rebounds from Tristin Rodgers.

Hosting rival Escalon for the Winter Homecoming on Jan. 31, newly crowned King Dunham was one of three Bruins in double figures as they held off a determined Escalon squad, 73-61.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere,” Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said of the rowdy crowd, packed gym and intense rivalry. “Made it a really fun game. We need those kinds of games and atmospheres to help prepare us for playoffs.”

Riverbank took a 20-10 after one quarter and was up 33-23 at the half, but visiting Escalon made some adjustments and came out with a 21-17 effort in the third quarter, trailing just 50-44 entering the final quarter.

The Bruins were able to outscore the Cougars 23-17 over the final eight minutes to seal the victory.

“I thought we came out a little too fired up and tried to do too much on our own,” Jennings said of the fast paced contest. “Our recipe for success so far this season has been to move the ball with the pass and we played too much one on one basketball. Too much dribbling. Also defensively we were always looking to make the great play rather than relying on our defensive system and our teammates.”

Still, the Bruins – who have lost only to Modesto Christian in league play – were steady enough to hold off the Cougars, who are third in league behind MC and Riverbank.

“I thought that Escalon played really well coming into such a hostile environment,” Jennings added.

Reilly Nabors paced the Bruins with 25 points on the night and Angel Esquivel had 13.

“They both played outstanding,” Jennings noted.

Dunham had 14, Ylii Lopez and Tristin Rodgers each had seven points to help take the win.

“This week we have Hilmar at home and then travel to Ripon to play on Friday,” Jennings said.

The varsity squad will look to keep the wins coming, with the goal of starting the playoffs at home, where the Bruins Den would provide plenty of fan support.