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Varsity Bruins Play For Own Tournament Title
In the not-too-distant past, the Riverbank High boys basketball team reigned supreme in the Ron Peterson Tip-Off Tournament with back-to-back-to-back titles starting in 2000.

Their absence from the top spot almost ended this year ... but the Bruins ran out of gas in the Tournament Championship against an undefeated Calaveras High squad, coming up just short and settling for second place.

Riverbank dropped a heart-breaking 46-35 contest against Calaveras, losing their first game of the young season, but giving the young program a boost of encouragement at an early stage of the campaign.

"I was extremely happy with our effort," Bruin head coach Jeff Jennings said. "It is a really great group of kids. We got a lot of compliments from the other coaches and fans about how hard they play, which is probably one of the best compliments you can get."

The Bruins had to even surprise themselves with the way they performed during the three-day 38th annual running of the Peterson Tournament. Riverbank outlasted a tough Waterford squad to get tournament action on a roll, and continued with the momentum in a one-point win over nearby neighbor Oakdale in the tourney's semi-final contest.

The Bruins, like in their win over Waterford, used a monstrous fourth quarter scoring barrage to earn a berth in the tournament championship.

Riverbank's magic would cease in the title game, falling to Calaveras in the 46-35 affair. Like Riverbank in its two previous outings, Calaveras used a big fourth quarter to push past the Bruins for the tournament championship.

The Bruins received solid play from all over the court, including an impressive season opening from sophomore playmaker Zach Gonzales. Gonzales scored in double-digits in two of the three games in the tournament and provided a level of enthusiasm that Riverbank will feed off for the duration of the season.

Riverbank senior Lucas Pope wasted little time getting his season going, breaking out for 21 points in the Bruins' win over Waterford and keeping the hot hand with a 15 point outing against the Oakdale Mustangs.

Jose Moreno proved to be a valuable option in the post, opening the tournament with 10 points against Waterford and then pacing the Bruins with a dozen in the tournament finale.

Riverbank also received stellar play from Donovan Wallace, Mohamed Ali as well as solid contributions from Chris Nunez off the bench.

"We definitely want to make you get out and work for 32 minutes," Jennings said of his usage of the Bruins' deep bench. "We do feel like we can play nine to 11 guys. It is making our practices a lot more competitive because we don't have a set starting lineup; we don't have a set rotation.

"If you earn it and you play hard, you'll be on the floor."

The Bruins will look to continue their impressive play to open the season as they play host to Denair High on Dec. 12 at the Riverbank High gym. Action will tip off with the JV contest at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity contest.