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Riverbank boys second at Tip-Off
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The Riverbank High School Bruins opened their basketball season in fine fashion, taking second place at their own 33rd annual Ron Peterson Tip-Off Tournament Dec. 2-4.

The Bruins topped Elliot Christian, 67-45, on Dec. 2, and beat Denair, 54-39, on Dec. 3. But in the tournament's championship game on Dec. 4, they fell to Ripon Christian, 74-65.

In earlier action, Riverbank beat Johansen in a CIF Foundation game thriller, by 87-82 in two overtimes. The Bruins stand at 2-1 on the season.

"At times so far this season, we've looked really good," said coach Jeff Jennings. "We just have to be consistent and play 32 minutes of good basketball. We've yet to do that."

In the tournament opener against Elliot Christian, Riverbank was ahead just 13-12 after the first quarter, but used a 15-8 second quarter to add to a 28-20 halftime lead. The third quarter was 15-all, but the Bruins were very strong in a 24-10 fourth quarter that ended Elliot's hopes.

"They were a very scrappy team," Jennings said. "I think in this tournament, we started relying more on our team pressure defensively. We relied on the system, instead of trying to do too much individually."

Kevin Cole had 24 points to lead the Bruins, including two 3-pointers. Eric Rodriguez scored 17, Kyle Mitchell put in eight, and Andrew Villalobos scored seven.

The next night against Denair, the second quarter was again big. This time, Riverbank used a 14-3 spurt to take a 30-18 halftime lead, and cruised from there.

"We're pretty tough to score on," Jennings said. "That second quarter showed how good we can be defensively. We have to defend in order to win; we have to play great team defense."

Cole again led the charge with 14, including four more 3-pointers, but the scoring was more balanced this time. Jon Blount scored 11, Mitchell had nine, and Villalobos and Gonzalez both put in six.

In the championship game, Ripon Christian outscored the Bruins 19-15 in the first quarter. But yet again, Riverbank took the second quarter - this time 22-13 - to take a 37-32 lead.

This time, however, Ripon Christian stormed back to 24-14 and 18-14 advantages in the final two quarters, taking the win and the championship.

"They hit some pretty big shots in the second half, and we didn't make some adjustments," Jennings said. "They switched to a zone defense, and we didn't make that transition very well going to our zone offense."

Villalobos had a huge game, going for 28 points and eight 3-pointers - just one shy of the school record.

"He's always been a big-game player, and that was a great performance," Jennings said.

Rodriguez scored 18, and Ray Baca was next highest scorer with eight.

Cole and Villalobos were both named to the All-Tournament team, and Nate Gonzales received the Louis Perez Inspirational Award.

In earlier action, Riverbank outlasted Johansen in a classic double-overtime game. Johansen was ahead 32-20 at halftime, but Riverbank won the second half 40-28 to force the game into overtime and eventually win.

The Bruins hit an impressive 15 three-pointers in the game; Cole had six and Blount four, while Baca and Villalobos had two each. Cole had 22 points, while Blount had 19.

The Bruins had a game at Sierra on Dec. 7 and host Delhi on Thursday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.