The Lady Bruins were outplayed down the final stretch of the fourth quarter in a game that was easily within their grasp, losing to Placer, 48-46, in a tough Pioneer Valley League match up, Tuesday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium. The loss drops Bear River into a three-way tie atop the PVL standings with just one game remaining.
“It was a tough loss,” said Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore. “The girls wanted it and played their butts off, but lost their composure down the stretch.”
Bear River worked hard to build a 41-34 lead early in the fourth quarter with Maddi Dunn tossing in an offensive put back which was followed by a Placer turnover and a nifty spin move by Savannah Welz to drop in another basket. Sarah Hagar led a fast break and scored a layup off a steal by Dunn. Welz went back to work in the paint and scored again giving the Lady Bruins a seven-point advantage with just over five minutes to play.
Bear River clung to a 43-41 lead when Placer’s Kerry McCullough banked in a 3-pointer to give her team a one-point edge which it would never surrender. The Lady Hill Gals outscored the Lady Bruins 14-5 to close out the game and clinch what is likely to be at least a share of the PVL title.
“(Placer) made plays, we didn’t,” said Bickmore. “We weren’t as active flying around. We didn’t have it tonight.”
Bear River has only itself to blame as missed layups and opportunities from the foul line proved to be devastating. The Lady Bruins shot 13-of-47 from the floor and 8-of-19 from the free throw line. Placer didn’t fare any better from the floor, shooting 8-of-29 from the floor, but it made 17-of-20 from the free throw line, which kept them in the thick of it until the end.
The game never felt as though one team was in complete control. Placer started things off with a couple of scores to go up 4-0, but Bear River bounced righty back with Hagar and Kaitlyn Reina working inside to knot it 4-4. Teryn Rath gave the Lady Bruins their first lead at 6-4 on an offensive put back and finished with seven points for the game. Placer’s Ariana Jensen later drained one from behind the arc to give the Hillgals an 11-8 lead.
In the second quarter Bear River had a 7-0 run putting them ahead 20-18 as Reina connected on a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired. Momentum’s tide quickly turned however as Placer responded with its own 6-0 run as Jensen dropped in another 3-pointer to give Placer a 27-24 lead at the half.
The Lady Bruins regained the lead and held it through most of the third quarter led by Reina outmuscling Placer for rebounds beneath the offensive glass. Reina finished with a double-double scoring 13 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Welz chipped in another basket, on her way to scoring a team-high 15 points and pulling in seven boards, to close out the quarter with Bear River ahead 35-32.
Trailing 44-43 with 45 seconds remaining, the Lady Bruins committed a turnover and the ball went back to Placer. Bear River was called for a holding foul with 23 seconds to play which reset the shot clock for the Hillgals. The Lady Bruins were forced to foul and send Placer to the line where it stood up to the pressure and went on to make 4-of-4 of its one-and-one attempts giving them five point lead with just 7 seconds to play. Bear River had called a timeout to set up a play, but it missed what would have been a 3-pointer to tie the game.
“We ran a play at the end to get an open 3-pointer to tie and just missed it,” added Bickmore.
When Bear River got the ball back down 48-43 the damage had already been done and defeat was beginning to sink in as Welz drained a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer to close out senior night.
“I felt bad for our seniors,” Bickmore said. “They struggled, but never gave up and worked hard until the end.”
Senior night festivities honored Cindy Solomon, Hagar and Welz before tip-off as players met on the court with family and loved ones to receive applause.”
Bear River (22-3, 7-2 PVL) will have one last game at Center Thursday to close out its regular season.