By the time Rolaun Dunham steps onto the court for Riverbank High’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 boys basketball playoff opener against Summerville on Wednesday, it will have been 12 days since he last played a game.
The Bruins hope that’s more than enough time for an injured ankle to fully mend.
The senior guard tweaked the ankle Feb. 11 in a game against Patterson. Three days later against Modesto Christian, he further injured the hinge and had to exit midway through the first quarter.
“He has good motion, good range and good strength on the ankle,” said Riverbank coach Jeff Jennings, whose team is 21-3 and the No. 3 seed. “Those are all good signs, but he hasn’t really gone out and played full speed.
“We’re trying to ease him in; there’s no sense suffering any setbacks at this point.”
Dunham, a Player of the Year candidate who averages 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, helped the Bruins reach the D4 semifinals last year, where they lost to none other than Summerville (10-15), which went on to win the D4 crown.
But Riverbank relies on more than just Dunham.
Senior guards Curtis Porter and Reilly Nabors average 13.3 and 12 points per game, respectively.
“We have good balance,” said Jennings. “The playoffs are about matchups. The point we were making (Thursday) is that we can only control what you can control. If we can defend and keep teams off the glass, with the way we move the ball, those things are a recipe for success. If we don’t do those three, we’re very vulnerable.”
While the Bruins have the luxury of five more days before their opener, six local teams will be thrown into the fire tonight.
On the boys side, No. 16 Turlock High (18-9) hosts No. 17 Stagg (Stockton) in a Division 1 outbracket game.
The Delta Kings were the No. 4 qualifier out of the Tri-City Athletic League and are just 10-17 overall. According to Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot, they are led by 6-foot-6 sophomore center Kenneth Wooten, who averages eight points and eight rebounds but swats an alarming five shots per contest. Stagg employs a 2-3 zone defense, something the Bulldogs haven’t seen much of this season.
“We have two fairly good sized post players (Kenny Fraser and Travis Cook),” said Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot. “But the thing we really don’t have is a slasher, somebody who can get into the paint and hit that pull-up 15-footer like we’ve had in the past. So we need to depend on our outside shooting and ball movement and have our big guys play strong inside.”
Outside of Wooten, Stagg is a perimeter-oriented team and relies heavily on point guard Jonathan Sreiy, the team’s leading scorer at 12.8 points per game.
In Division 2 outbracket games, Grace Davis (17-9), the No. 16 seed, hosts No. 17 Vallejo (16-10); No. 18 Beyer (16-11) travels to Stockton to face No. 15 Bear Creek (19-8); and No. 19 Gregori (14-12) hits the road to face No. 14 Vacaville (16-10).
On the girls side, Merced (16-10) and Kimball (24-3) play outbracket games in Division 1. The No. 16 Bears host 17 seed Rodriguez (16-10) of Fairfield, while the No. 14 Jaguars host No. 19 Lodi (15-12).
All games tip off at 7 p.m.