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Lady Bruins Avenge Prior Defeat
A boisterous 5.7 strength formula number from the Trans Valley League is going to do wonders for prep teams in the Trans Valley League in terms of jostling for Sac-Joaquin Section playoff seeds this season.

Since other division IV leagues like the Mother Lode League (5.1 league strength rating), Southern League (4.3) and Sierra Delta League (3.9) have low ratings, teams with at least six TVL wins are likely to reach the playoffs when wins are multiplied off league strengths ratings.

Riverbank inched closer to that magic number by ousting visiting Escalon 57-48 on Jan. 24 to avenge a 44-39 loss to the Cougars on Jan. 7.

The Bruins (13-7 overall, 3-4 TVL) played hapless Orestimba (5-17, 0-7) on Monday, though results were not available at press time. A likely win over Warriors means Riverbank can control its own postseason destiny by winning two of its final four games against teams the Bruins were 1-3 against during the first half of league. Unbeaten Modesto Christian is considered a bit out of reach, signaling a need for Riverbank to win two games over the likes of Hilmar (host today, Jan. 30), Ripon (visit Feb. 1) and Hughson (visit Feb. 11).

The playoffs would be all but out of reach if Riverbank didn't rally to outscore Escalon 33-19 in the first half and hold on to defeat after a 29-24 Escalon advantage through the final two periods.

Olivia Luu scored 17 points in the win with 10 steals and 11 assists recorded. Janelle Luu added 10 rebounds with 15 points and four steals. Riverbank's Vanessa Vargas (nine points), Tori Sandoval (seven), Kendra Garcia (six) and Amy McDonald (three) also scored in the win.

"We knew we were capable of playing at a higher level than we had been and were eager to put that theory to the test after giving one up to Escalon in the first round," Riverbank coach Tim Carnes said.

The Bruins were still smarting from a 71-38 loss to MC that left the team bruised and battered after what Carnes said was one-sided physical play in the Crusader's favor allowed by officials.

Carnes indicated the physical toll of that loss made the win over Escalon two days later that much more difficult.

"We really needed to get in a win in the column after losing to MC," Carnes said. "Problem was, we were pretty beat up physically after MC. We had to make adjustments to overcome the bumps and bruises and decided to push as hard as we could in the first half and hopefully cruise through the second for a win.

"(The strategy) seemed to work out for us."