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Hilmar girls fall at home in final game
Riverbank clinches TVL title
Hilmar girls 2
Sophomore Kristin Bello (2) of Hilmar tries to push through the Riverbank defense and into the paint during the first half of Tuesdays home finale. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

The Hilmar High (2-8) girls’ varsity basketball squad hosted the top team in the Trans Valley League, Riverbank (9-1), on Tuesday night in their regular season finale for one last showdown for the seniors.

Unfortunately, with the postseason out of reach, the ‘Jackets were battling for bragging rights and looking to spoil a title shot, but when it was all said and done the lady ‘Jackets just couldn’t keep up with the Bruins stifling performance from the three-point range, as they fell on senior night, 38-62.

“Hats off to Riverbank because it seemed like they didn’t miss many shots especially from the three point land and that really hurt us,” said Hilmar head coach Don Inman. “They are a strong team. A team with a lot of experience and I think part of the problem tonight was our youth.”

As a team, Hilmar made only 36-percent of their shots, including a shooting performance of only 3-for-23 (13 percent) for the game.

Hilmar, who started two freshmen and a sophomore for most of the season, had gone through some growing pains as the season carried on despite some bright moments and Tuesday night just wasn’t the team’s night.

Not even the ‘Jackets’ valiant effort was enough to cool off a Riverbank team who made 12 three-point shots for the night.

Riverbank’s Olivia Luu finished the night with a game-high 31 points and made nine of the teams dozen three-point shots as the Bruins snapped their two game losing streak.

“Our record didn’t show how well we played. I thought we played hard and gave it a 110 percent, we just didn’t come out with the win in most games,” said senior Kinsey Pettigrew.

Hilmar ends their year having lost five out of their last six games which includes an 8-15 overall posting.

“I am proud of my group because they didn’t quit,” Inman said. “They could’ve thrown the towel in at any time but they played hard till the last second of the game and that’s been the attitude they have portrayed all season long and as a coach I can’t say anything bad about that.”

Although the score might say otherwise the ‘Jackets hung tough for a limited amount of time but it was a second quarter surge from Riverbank that put the Bruins atop 31-15 by the end of the first half after the score was just 11-10 after the first quarter.

Shots continued to roll Riverbank’s way and by the end of the third quarter the Bruins had gone up 45-24 over the ‘Jackets.

“I feel like it was experience that hurt us because we have a young team out there and late in the game that just makes it tough,” said senior Angelique Souza. “It didn’t feel like we only had two league wins. I feel like we gave it our all as a team and especially us seniors in our last year we wanted to give it as much effort as we could.”

Riverbank went on a close 17-14 run in the fourth and final quarter and by the time the whistle was blown the Bruins were crowned the undisputed TVL champs.

Hilmar ends the year with no postseason berth, but with a bright future and seven returners for next year’s team.

“It hurts to lose a player like Kinsey Pettigrew because she has been part of this group for the last four year and she has set an incredible example for the rest of our kids,” Inman said. “This is a team that has unlimited potential. We had kids playing at the JV level that I think will come up and help a lot and if this team wants to work hard the sky’s the limit.”