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JV Girls Test Tournament Competitive In Modesto
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The Riverbank High School junior varsity girls offered the only game in town during the week before Christmas.

The local basketball team lost to Pitman 42-29, defeated Modesto Christian 44-26, beat Big Valley by 36-12, and lost the championship consolation game to Lincoln, 57-39, in a Dec. 20 and 21 tournament staged at Modesto Christian High School.

Riverbank led 8-5 in the first quarter against Pitman, but trailed 11-13, 4-13 and 6-11 in the subsequent quarters.

High scorers were Kelly Clancey and Heather Medrano with nine points each; Briana Machutta, with four; Katie Mitchell, with three; and Jaylene Thomas and Vanessa Rodriguez, with two each.

"We got off to a great start in the first half, limiting Pitman to five points in the first quarter and holding a one point lead at half time. We played them earlier in the season and they walked all over us," said Bruin coach Robert Mayfield.

In the first half of this game, Riverbank played great defense and rebounded well against a team who had a superior height advantage. In the second half, the Bruins were a different team. They didn't protect the ball, got very careless on offense, and defensively gave up many key offensive rebounds.

"With our lack of size, we cannot afford to give up second and third opportunities. We only played two quarters of good basketball. That was the difference in the game," he said.

In the second game that day, a win over Modesto Christian, the Bruins led in every quarter, posting scores of11-4, 14-9, 10-5 and 9-8

Top points for Riverbank came from Rodriguez, with 22 points; Medrano and Clancey, with eight points each; Machutta, with four; and Thomas, with two.

"The girls responded well in this game following our loss to Pitman," said Mayfield. ""MC used a full court press in the first half, which slowed us down offensively early in the game. But our defense shut them down throughout the game, which allowed us to maintain control in both the first and second half."

Rodriguez, Clancey and Medrano each had solid efforts on offense, while the entire team contributed greatly on defense. Katie Mitchell and Colleen Cornish each had breakout games defensively, and controlled the boards well.

In scoring a second win against Big Valley the next day, the Bruins led 7-4, 12-0, 15-2 in the first three-quarters before cruising 2-6 in the last period.

Colleen Cornish and Clancey scored eight points each; Machutta and Rodriguez, four; Medrano and Mitchell, three; and Anayeli Madrigal, Karina Montoya and Thomas, two each.

"Again we had a slow start offensively. We looked like we were playing in slow motion against a much weaker team. Sometimes we seem to lower our level of play against less competitive teams. That's exactly what happened in the first quarter of this game," said Mayfield.

From the second quarter on, however, the Bruins woke up and took complete control of the game, limiting Big Valley to zero and two points in the second and third quarters.

"I was glad to see some of our other girls get involved offensively. Colleen stepped up and made several shots, while Briana and Katie also contributed to a great offensive team effort. All but one of our girls scored in the game," he added.

Coming to their final game against Lincoln for the consolation championship, Riverbank lost the opening quarter 4-20; yielded the second period too, at 12-13, won the third, 15-13; but then lost the last one, 8-11.

Clancey hit 16 points for the top Bruin scorer. Thomas posted eight points; Rodriguez, seven; Cornish, three; Medrano and Mitchell, two each; and Machutta, one.

"Our tendency to have slow starts haunted us in this game. I think many of our girls felt a little intimidated by Lincoln. They're a division one school from Stockton, who won their previous two games in the tournament by a margin of roughly 40 points in each game. Physically, their team was much bigger and more athletic than us, which created mismatches for us at every position," said Mayfield.

The Bruins lost by 18 points, he noted, but if you take away the first quarter, the game was virtually a tie. Unfortunately for Riverbank, they just weren't able to put everything together for four quarters. Lincoln full court pressed for the entire game, which Riverbank was able to break easily after the first quarter and create many easy baskets. Thomas and Clancey made several key shots throughout the game.

"Our girls put together a great effort, and we played much better than the score might indicate. We had a bad shooting game, missing many lay-ups and short-range shots, and only shooting 7 for 22 from the free throw line. Defensively, we held our own and had our best game on the boards. If a few more shots had fallen and we'd shot better from the free throw line, it would have been a different story, said Mayfield.

All in all, he added, Riverbank improved a lot as a team in the tournament and witnessed several individual players make great improvements. The Bruins were also playing without a full squad, with several key players absent on family vacations.

"If we give this kind of effort in every game and improve our shooting, we're going to be tough to beat," he concluded.