By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Varsity Basketball Bruins Looking To The Future
Riverbank High varsity boys basketball coach Jeff Jennings has the key to success.

It sits somewhere in between his house and car keys on a bulky ring of metal in his side pocket.

The key allows entrance to Riverbank High's new gymnasium, where Bruin basketball players are already training just days since the team's season-ending loss to Hughson.

Players called Jennings via cell phone on Sunday in hopes of getting into the gym for the first of many sessions of off-season shoot-arounds prior to the 2010-11 season.

"What I like about these guys is they are gym rats," Jennings said. "It's only one full day since our last game and they already want to get back into the gym. Those are the guys that win games for you."

Riverbank will return all three leading scorers and four of the six most active players for next season's run at the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

The team went 11-15 overall this year, but just 2-8 in a tough schedule of Trans-Valley League games. Four of the six VOL teams made the playoffs, including Division IV favorite, Modesto Christian, and Division V No. 2 seed, Ripon Christian.

Riverbank beat Ripon Christian in the second half of league play but could not escape games with either Escalon (12 seed, D-IV) or Ripon (16 seed, D-IV) with victories.

The team did, however, gain confidence and experience as the season progressed. Top scorer Zack Gonzales exploded for 32 points against Modesto Christian on Feb. 16 in a 99-62 loss to MC. Riverbank fell behind after a 24-11 second quarter disadvantage but kept pace with the Crusaders in a 44-36 second half tally. Two days later the team closed the season with a close 51-47 loss to Hughson

"I felt like we did a lot of good things this year," Jennings said. "I definitely saw a lot of growth and a lot of improvement."

Jennings saw sophomore point guard, Alex Reynaga, take on some heavy responsibilities this season and the underclassman developed well in the role. He made some big shots in big situations and did his best to feed Gonzalez and sharpshooter Manuel Jimenez in transition.

"Alex definitely learned how to control the tempo and get the ball to people who were a threat to score," Jennings said. "He gained confidence throughout the year and became a fearless floor leader for us."

The team will miss seniors Jose Moreno, Benji Leal and Blake Costalupes, but return a strong core group of players with quality experience under their belt. Junior varsity leading scorer Anthony Navarratte should help fill Moreno's void in the paint and could see serious playing time in his junior season.

The Bruins will be in weight training and shoot-around mode until AAU basketball kicks off in the summer. The Bruins will train heavily until the sports' dead period next season.