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Playoff Power - Bruin Boys Host Mariposa To Start Postseason Action
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The Riverbank High student cheering section affectionately dubbed the "RB Crazies" will paint on their game faces today, Wednesday, Feb. 22 for a home playoff boys basketball game against the Mariposa Grizzlies.

The varsity Bruins, who sit at 21-3 overall after a 9-3 second place showing in the Trans-Valley League, landed third in the final release of the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings.

The seed means Riverbank is on the opposite side of the bracket of top-seeded TVL champion Modesto Christian and dangerous No. 4 seed from the tough Valley Oak League, Sonora. Bret Harte landed the second seed after an unbeaten romp through the Mother Lode League.

"I was definitely happy with the third seed," Bruin coach Jeff Jennings said. "We will have the 'RB Crazies' out in full force and we are trying to get a blackout going where all of our fans are wearing black."

Mariposa secured a postseason berth and 14th seed after a 5-1 push in their final six games to finish 11-3 in the Southern League. The Grizzles struggled with eight consecutive non-league losses to start their season and were 0-11 against teams outside of the feeble Southern League.

But while Mariposa started slow, their late success is nothing to scoff at. The Grizzlies won all four conference games that were decided by five or fewer points and hosted a scoring parade during an 84-56 blowout of Gustine on Feb. 10.

"Mariposa is playing a lot better now than they were earlier in the season," Jennings said. "We know they are well coached and they play hard."

Riverbank is 6-3 against teams they have previously played in the D-IV bracket, and sports victories over the No. 2, 4, 5, 7 and 11 seeds. The Bruins are victors over league champions from the Western Athletic Conference (Los Banos), Modesto Metro Conference (Grace Davis), Southern League (Ripon Christian) and Mother Lode League (Bret Harte).

Some of their biggest victories have come at home, where the Bruin fan base has proven to be a loud and boisterous weapon inside the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium.

"It's fun to have student involvement that is almost like a college atmosphere," Jennings said. "We have been playing pretty stinking well at home and we feel comfortable playing in our house."

Mariposa is led by 6 foot, 4 inch senior center Ian Merzwinski, who has averaged nearly 17 points and over five rebounds during 24 contests this season.

"We are going to try and make (Merzwinski) work for everything," Jennings said. "I think overall the match-up favors us because our style of play doesn't suit them."

If Riverbank can get past Mariposa, they will host the winner of No. 6 seed, San Juan, and No. 11 seed, Escalon. San Juan earned the high seed after a Sierra Delta League championship, but were just 6-8 in nonleague contests and didn't have the same difficult schedule that Escalon did.

If Escalon wins, it will set up an all-TVL quarterfinal that is guaranteed to pack the Riverbank gym on Friday night, Feb. 24.

Junior Varsity

Riverbank fell to Ripon in a 58-50 score and dropped a 74-54 contest to Hughson for a sharp 8-4 finish to TVL play. Reilly Nabors scored 23 points on Ripon while Tristan Rogers added 12 and Devin Brandon five.

Nabors added 17 points on Hughson while Jonathan Beliera got hot from beyond the arc with five treys and 15 points. Rogers and Freddie Capas each chipped in seven points during the loss.


The Bruin freshmen capped a dazzling unbeaten season with a 69-59 win over Hughson on Friday. Chris Jennings scored 20 points with 11 rebounds to complete his 12th conference double-double of the season. Ylii Lopez notched 19 points and six assists while Gabriel Manriquez put up 14 points and five rebounds. Vincent Meras added 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Zak Geisick (six points), Oscar Ortiz and Alexis Drumonde (three rebounds) all contributed in the win.

The team was rolling from a key win over Ripon in 49-36 fashion just three days prior. Lopez scored 17 points with six rebounds and six assists while Meras chipped in 16 points and four steals. Chris Jennings came through with eight points and 10 rebounds while Bobby Campbell added five rebounds, five steals and four assists.