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Riverbank Challenge A Slam Dunk - Alumni Tourney Thrills Local Crowd
Some may say Riverbank High's 2001 Sac-Joaquin Section championship boys basketball team still lives in the past.

But rather than re-live their Arco Arena glory, these Bruin alumni reach back to 1996, when a collection of NBA all stars were body snatched by cartoon alien monsters for the hit movie Space Jam.

Ten of the 2001 Bruin champs stole the name of that fearsome squad The Monstars for their alumni team of the same moniker in 2009.

It was the same year that another alumni team, the Retro Classics, won the first ever Riverbank alumni tournament by beating the RBK Monstars in the championship game.

The two teams met again in 2010, and the Monstars evened the score with a victory over the Classics during the tourney finale.

On Saturday, the RBK Monstars won the title tiebreaker by upending the Retro Classics with a 77-63 victory inside the Ray E. Fauria gymnasium.

The win granted the Monstars back-to-back alumni titles and a full year of bragging rights until the fourth annual tip-off in 2012.

The championship game was the 20th contest of a 12-team Riverbank Challenge tournament that featured 11 alumni squads and a collection of 15 current RHS varsity players on a team dubbed RBK New School.

Fauria gymnasium was packed with onlookers during the tournament, most cheering on their favorite local players as each fought to stand out in a crowd of talented alumni.

"I was pretty proud to be a part of it," Riverbank basketball coach, alumni and Retro Classics guard/forward Jeff Jennings said. "After 15 years as a varsity coach, it's pretty special to see all the kids that I have coached and their families."

Former coaches Ron Peterson and Juan Alaniz also attended to see some familiar faces, while Bruin dads and career officials Sal Rodriguez and Johnny Viszcaino Sr. volunteered to officiate the tournament and its' championship game. Around 100 Bruin alumni made the trek from all corners of the state to attend the event.

"A lot of people have these misconceptions about what Riverbank is all about," Jennings said. "Growing up here I learned that this is a very tight-knit community with a lot of success in basketball and a lot of pride."

The Monstars are a big reason for that success, and kept their prestige alive with a 43-31 lead on the Retro Classics at the half of Saturday's title game. The Retro Classics closed that margin to an eight-point deficit with two minutes to play, but couldn't convert late opportunities. Monstars' free throws in the final moments kept the game out of reach.

Aaron Gentry led Monstars players with 27 points while sharp shooting Brian Rotan tallied 17. Kelly Wheelock chipped in nine points while Mike Tinajero added seven. Steve Meinert and Ricky Villavicencio each scored six while Mike Meinert added five and Victor Silva three.

Chris Gonzales was superb from beyond the arc and deadly in the paint for the Retro Classics. He scored 23 points and watched Miguel Alaniz hit treys for 15 points. Jennings converted good looks from the outside for 11 points while Kirk Peterson came alive late to tally 10. Isaac Kinsey added four points as well.

Gonzales and two Riverbank High players were slated to battle for the $100 three-point contest prize on Monday, but Gonzales graciously allowed Kenny Veliz and Anthony Navarrete to vie for the cash prize between them.