Bear River’s Savannah Welz drilled a 3-pointer with 7 minutes and 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter to pull the Lady Bruins to within single digits of Menlo – but that would be as close as Bear River would get.
Menlo (22-9) reeled off 10 straight points in response to Welz’s bucket to pull away Saturday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium, effectively bouncing Bear River (26-5) from the CIF NorCal girls basketball tournament.
The Lady Bruins were served a healthy dose of Menlo’s Drew Edelman right from the start. The 6-foot, 4-inch senior center, who stands seven inches taller than any Bear River player, scored 10 in the first quarter and 16 of her game-high 18 points in the first half to help Menlo grab a 29-17 lead at the break.
“Shes really quite a player, and she did a really good job tonight,” Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore said of Edelman. “Teryn (Rath) had a tough job tonight, and she’s done this for us before, taking on the other teams big, strong post player, but never anybody who is a Pac-12 player like this girl is going to be. I mean she is a big-time player.”
In the second half, Bear River’s post players, Rath and Kaitlyn Reina, doubled Edelman much of the way, effectively taking her out of Menlo’s offense, but the Lady Knights found other ways to score.
Menlo got 15 points from Maddie Price, eight of which came in the second half, and Kaelen Dunn sank a pair of 3-pointers in the final two quarters to help Menlo to the win.
“Bear River came out in the second half and were doubling Drew so it left some of our other players open and they delivered,” Menlo head coach John Paye said. “Bear River presents a lot of problems with their aggressive defense and our other girls just stepped it up.”
Doubling Edelman was a risk Bickmore said he felt his team needed to take if they were going to mount a second half comeback.
“We had to make some adjustments,” he said. “With those adjustments we had to give up shots, because we had to give up something, most teams we play we’re able to match up and find a way to defend them. This team we had to gamble because they had one player that we just didn’t have an answer for one-on-one. So hats off to her and them.”
The bright spot offensively for Bear River was Sarah Hagar with 17 points, 16 of which came on jump shots.
The Lady Bruins were forced to rely on their outside shot against Menlo, due to the imposing Edelman roving the paint. Edelman, who will be playing for USC next season, led Menlo in rebounds with nine and had a pair of blocks.
“Against (Menlo’s) zone, when we really don’t get a whole lot on the block, and (Edelman) just gobbles up so many rebounds, it does have an effect,” Bickmore said. “We needed to hit the perimeter shot, we needed to get the ball inside, then get it out, but we were having a hard time just getting it inside.”
Welz hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second half and Kaitlyn Reina added five points and nine rebounds, but nothing Bear River did offensively looked smooth.
Between Edelman roaming the middle and Menlo’s press, Bear River struggled to get much going in any quarter.
The Lady Bruins’ 38 points was their second-lowest offensive output of the season.
“The only team that wins their last game is the state champion,” Bickmore said. “And it’s pretty hard to win a state championship, so you pretty much know your last game is going to be a loss, you just put it off as long as you can and we did a great job of that, and happy with them.”
The loss concludes the season for Bear River and the prep careers of seniors Welz, Hagar and point guard Cindy Solomon.
“Were definitely going to miss them and filling their shoes will be difficult,” Bickmore said of his departing seniors. “Not only their leadership, but their play on the court, their competitiveness, their toughness, they did a great job for us all season.”
Despite the loss, there were few tears from the Bear River sideline. The team that earned a share of the Pioneer Valley League title, was runner up in section tournament and won 26 games this season held their heads high as they walked off the court.
“This senior year has been incredible,” Welz said. “We made it to Arco, we tied for league, we met our goals, it would have been nice to go a little farther, but it was a great team to be a part of and I wouldn’t want it to have been any other way. Maybe a win at Arco, but that’s it.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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