It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
A saying the Bear River girl’s basketball team can truly identity with to its core.
“Sarah Haggar is a real tough kid, and was our leading rebounder last year. She’s 5-foot-6, a good scorer and been in system for four years,” said Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore. “I don’t worry as much with her.”
Haggar and Teryn Rath, two of Bear River’s likely key contributors this season, just finished playing volleyball for the Bruins.
“We’re off to a slow start,” said Bickmore. “We have good kids and they’re working hard. We’re probably behind other teams since we’ve missed practice time.”
The loss of PVL MVP Jennifer Meylor who graduated has hurt the Lady Bruins. Someone is going to have to step up and account for the 17.9 points per game that disappeared with Meylor’s departure. It’s obvious Haggar and Rath just might be what the doctor ordered. Combined they averaged 12.2 points between them last season and also led the team in rebounds with 484 combined. Haggar dished out the most assists with 69 and was second in steals behind Meylor with 90.
“We finished second in the PVL last year. We expect to make the playoffs,” Bickmore said. “It’s a pretty young team with only three seniors. As long as we stay healthy we’ll keep improving. We were one game away from Arco last season.”
Coming off a season where the Lady Bruins averaged 50 points per game and shot 31 percent from the field there‘s a lot that can still be improved upon. They allowed 44 points per game to the opposition, but advanced deep into the playoffs beating Hughson and Ripon by a combined score of 103-62 before falling to Calaveras who went on to win the Sac-Joaquin D-IV Section championship. The advantage for the girls on this Bruin team is that they have truly been in the thick of a deep playoff run, and know what it takes to win. They qualified for the CIF State D-IV Championship tournament Last season, and defeated West Valley 39-36 in the opening round before being knocked out by an extremely talented St. Mary’s squad.
This year’s roster features three seniors, six juniors and one sophomore. Savannah Welz, who was awarded First team All-Pioneer Valley League honors, looks to continue her good outside shooting and steady play. Welz was the team’s second leading scorer dropping in 8.7 points per game. She also led the team in three-point shooting draining 50 from downtown. Nothing phases her and as a senior she will be an asset to helping the younger players, said Bickmore.
“Cindy Solomon is our third year point guard who missed her sophomore year with broken leg and also a good part of junior year,” Bickmore said. “She’s a great ball handler, shooter, and I’m real excited for her. She’s the hardest worker we have, so it’s fun for her and me to see how she does.”
Areas of improvement for Lady Bruins include both inside and outside shooting, said Bickmore. They only converted 31 percent of their shots as a team last season with a marginal 23 percent from behind the arc, but their physical toughness and strong-willed mentality on the defensive side kept them in games. So far this year they have already snatched 15 steals.
“We’re really small, not a lot of size, but they make up for it by being aggressive, playing really hard, hustling, diving for balls. I appreciate the toughness and not backing down,” Bickmore said.
Two other players Bickmore will rely on this season are juniors Maddi Dunn and Kaitlyn Reina who currently lead the Bruins in scoring through two games this season.
“Dunn is lightning fast and an exciting defender,” said Bickmore. “She’s definitely one to watch, a real game-changer. She blocks, rebounds and always guards the toughest players. Reina has just recovered from back surgery and she’s going to be one of our top scorers. I’m very excited to see her contribute and do well.”
It certainly seems the Lady Bruins have gotten off on the right foot winning their first two games, 46-41 over Dixon and 60-57 over McClymonds in the first round of the Winter Wolf Classic. Reina scored 14 points, grabbed seven boards and two steals in the victory over Dixon with Dunn right behind her at 10 points. No doubt the Bruins will continue to exert their aggressive ferocity on the court this weekend at the American Canyon Winter Wolf Classic as Sarah Haggar will play her first minutes of the season.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call (530) 477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org