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Holiday Basketball Tournament A Tough Go For Bruin Boys
After getting roughed up in the first two rounds of the Oakdale Rotary Holiday Classic basketball tournament, the Riverbank varsity Bruins made a statement on Friday. And they didn't mind going to overtime to do it.

The varsity squad earned a hard fought 65-57 win over Johansen in game three of the tournament, getting 14 points in the extra frame for the victory.

Playing four games in four days made for a lot of court time for the Bruins, and head coach Jeff Jennings was glad to get his team so much work just ahead of opening the tough Trans-Valley League schedule.

The Bruins made the short drive to Oakdale to open up play in the tourney on Wednesday, Dec. 26 and faced off with Patterson, falling to the Tigers 54-39.

Other first round games saw Enochs top Los Banos, 49-46; Oakdale defeat Ripon Christian, 49-43; Hughson top Calaveras, 54-41; Escalon defeat Johansen, 58-56; and Davis top Sonora, 53-44. It was supposed to be a 16-team tournament, but four dropped out, leaving 12 to do the round robin four-day tourney.

In round two on Thursday, the Bruins had a tough time finding the net and fell in a 41-25 decision to Los Banos. Other winners in round two were Calaveras, Patterson, Enochs, Davis and Hughson.

Determined to put their game together on Friday, the varsity Bruins fell a few points behind Johansen, 14-11, in the first quarter but responded with a 13-6 run in the second to lead it, 24-20 at the half. The teams were fairly evenly matched in the third, though the Bruins maintained a 3-point lead, 40-37 headed into the fourth quarter.

Johansen responded, however, and tied the game at 40-40 on a bucket and then a free throw with 5:31 to play in the final frame. From there, it was a back and forth battle down to the wire. The Vikings built up a small lead but Francisco Pineda knocked down a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 50-48 with 1:31 to play. After the Vikings converted on another free throw, the Bruins got another 3-point basket to knot the game at 51-51. The teams then traded shots, neither of which went in, and the overtime period was on.

Riverbank held the upper hand in the extra four-minute period, refusing to lose the contest. Key free throws from Pineda, Robert Lopez and a trey by Lucas Pope helped the offense and the defense held off the Vikings down the stretch, the Bruins happy to grab a win from the higher Division team in the tournament.

Their Saturday match, the final one in the tournament, was after deadline for The News.

Pineda poured in 18 points in the Friday victory and Lopez chipped in with 13 as the Bruins got an all around team effort in the win.

At the JV level, the boys had a tough time, losing on Wednesday's opening day to Patterson and then falling to Los Banos on Thursday. Wednesday winners in the JV tourney were Patterson, Enochs, Johansen and Calaveras, with Riverbank, Los Banos, Escalon and Hughson taking the losses. Teams with byes on opening day were Sonora, Ripon Christian, Davis and Oakdale.

Second round matches saw Patterson defeat Sonora, Ripon Christian top Enochs, Davis defeat Johansen, Calaveras get by Oakdale, Hughson beat Escalon and Los Banos top the JV Bruins.

On Friday, it was a TVL preview match between Riverbank and Escalon, with the JV Cougars prevailing in a 68-35 contest. Escalon built up a 31-17 lead at halftime and cruised to the win over the Bruins, who put up a fight but couldn't keep pace with the determined Escalon squad.