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Three's Company - Bruin Boys Land Tourney Titles At All Three Levels
Every program starts the season with a clean slate, but Riverbank High's boys basketball program busted out the brooms anyway on Saturday.

The varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams landed a complete program sweep after tournament championship victories at all three levels on Saturday in respective tourney action.

Combined with Riverbank's varsity girls' tournament championship, the weekend represented one of the most successful starts to Riverbank basketball in school history.

"We put in a ton of time this offseason and it trickled down to the lower levels," Riverbank boys coach Jeff Jennings said. "They worked a lot on their game and I think that is showing."

The Bruin freshmen toppled Hughson for a first place finish in the Denair Tournament. Riverbank's junior varsity team upended Calaveras for a Ron Peterson Tip-Off Tournament title, and watched the varsity program claim the same honor over the same opponent.

It was Riverbank's second consecutive win over Calaveras in their host varsity tournament finals in as many years. The Redskins saw some postseason revenge by beating Riverbank in the first round of last year's playoff bracket, but the Bruins were the better team on Saturday during a 62-51 victory.

Calaveras led 17-11 after a quarter, but failed to cool the hot streak of Riverbank's Kenny Veliz during a 20-7 Bruin rally in the second period. Veliz scored 17 of his 26 points during a heroic second quarter effort to give the Bruins an eight-point lead at the half.

"We don't win that game if he doesn't go off," Jennings said. "We knew he had that ability after a couple 30-point games from him as a sophomore (on junior varsity)."

The Redskins rallied back with a two-point scoring advantage in the third quarter, but Riverbank outscored Calaveras 19-16 in the fourth period to seal the win.

"There are a lot of good coaches in our area, and I think Calaveras has one of the best, because those guys are good," Jennings said. "Our road to the championship included Calaveras and Ripon Christian two teams that will probably win their leagues."

Ripon Christian was a 14-0 Southern League champion a year ago, was runner-up in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs and finished 1-1 in the D-V California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. Their last loss of the season was to D-V state champion St. Joseph Notre Dame.

The Knights went 2-1 to claim a third place title at the Ron Peterson Tip-Off Tournament, but couldn't squeeze past Riverbank in a 58-48 semifinal contest.

Riverbank showed some sensational defense in their tourney opener after a 70-24 rout of Denair. The Bruins led 63-24 after three periods and held Denair scoreless in the final quarter.

"As each game progressed in the tournament we started to get a feel for who we were," Jennings said. "I was extremely happy with our defensive effort."

Bruin players showed little of the rust expected from a lull in action between fall sports and injuries. Sophomore Rolaun Dunham made a triumphant return to the floor (25 tournament points) after five months of rehabilitation from offseason leg surgery.

Dunham was cleared to participate last week and played in only one practice before the tournament tip-off on Dec. 1.

Fall athletes also made big impacts just weeks after their release from their respective sport. Alex Reynaga (44 tourney points) was named tourney MVP while football teammates Anthony Navarette (27), Logan Nabors (16) and Luis Solario (eight) also had contributions.

"I credit a lot of our success to the football program," Jennings said. "I think (football coach James Oliver) did a great job and we saw some of the same type of efforts from these guys when they came out for basketball."

Veliz, a soccer standout, landed 43 tourney points in a big three-game effort and saw Robert Martinez (18 points) also play well.