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Hilmar Loss Devastates Hoops Playoff Picture
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When Riverbank High breaks into an expected first round game of the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball playoffs, they won't be doing it in the spectacular Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium with dozens of screaming fans at their sides.

The Bruins dropped an unexpected 54-51 heartbreaker to Hilmar in action this past week, effectively eliminating any chance of a top-8 seed from the Trans-Valley League and home game in the D-IV bracket.

Now, Riverbank will cling to top-16 rating and hope for a favorable match-up to begin postseason play. The Bruins played No. 5 Ripon at home on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. The Bruins must beat host Hughson (No. 35) on Friday, Feb. 18 to maintain a top-16 seed and guarantee an extra contest.

"I don't have much hair left, I scratched it all off," Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings said. "We showed up and went through the motions of just playing a basketball game and unfortunately Hilmar had different intentions. Not much went right and I'm still kind of in a fog about it."

Riverbank was 11th and Hilmar 20th in the most recent release of the power ratings, though both marks are destined to shake up a bit.

The Yellowjackets made a case for their own rise after a 33-29 second half advantage. It was the fourth time Riverbank had squandered a halftime tie or lead in six games.

"Hilmar played with a lot of energy and we didn't match it," Jennings said. "Winning is never guaranteed, especially when you are as young as we are. You should never underestimate opponents at their own house."

Hilmar's leading scorer, Daniel Greenleaf, tagged Riverbank for a game high 16 points. The Bruins got 12 from Zack Gonzales, 10 from Antony Navarrete and nine each from Manuel Jimenez and Rolaun Dunham.

The SJS D-IV playoffs tip off on Feb. 23. If Riverbank lands somewhere in the 13-15 seed range (likely), they will face a team like Summerville (No. 2), Colfax (No. 3) or Amador (No. 4). Riverbank beat Summerville in a 60-53 thriller at home on Dec. 3.

"I feel like we can beat any team out there," Jennings said. "It's just a matter of getting in there and playing our best basketball. If we do that, we have got a chance to win each game."