COTTONWOOD — For the second time in three years the Bear River girls basketball team made the 150-mile trip to Cottonwood to face West Valley in the first round of the CIF NorCal D-IV girls basketball tournament.
The trip home this time will have a much more somber tone.
The Lady Bruins let an 11-point fourth-quarter lead slip away and blew a chance to win the game with two free throws with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. With all the momentum, West Valley dominated the overtime period and exacted some revenge for the loss two seasons ago, beating the Lady Bruins, 51-43.
“We fell apart,” Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore said. “I don’t know. There were a lot of things we should have done but didn’t do. It’s one of those things where I want to focus on the year we had and not dwell on this. We had a good year we just didn’t have a good game.”
After a tightly contested first half that had the Lady Bruins leading 22-20, Bear River opened a sizable lead in the third.
Senior Maddi Dunn hit back-to-back 3-pointers out of the break to open an eight-point lead. Dunn scored all 10 of her points in the second half and eight of them in the third alone.
After a West Valley bucket, Bear River senior Kaitlyn Reina then scored consecutive buckets inside to push the lead to 10 points and two Dunn free throws made it 34-22.
Reina scored 12 points in the game to go with eight rebounds.
Teryn Rath then grabbed an offensive rebound and found Lauren Runte for a short jumper, extending the lead to 14. Rath led the Lady Bruins with 11 rebounds.
West Valley’s Aubrey Mendonca answered with a free throw and with just seconds left went coast to coast and hit a short jumper at the buzzer to swing the momentum heading into the fourth.
Much like the Lady Bruins did in the Sac-Joaquin Section Semifinal against Bradshaw Christian, the offense went into hibernation.
West Valley outscored Bear River 13-2 to tie the game at 38 apiece with just 1 minute and 32 seconds left.
Bear River regained the lead when a tipped ball found its way into Reina’s hands and she sank a shot from the paint with just :26 left on the clock
The Lady Eagles answered with a bank shot by Kennidy Bailey to tie it with 10 seconds left.
The Lady Bruins quickly got the ball down the court and drew a shooting foul with four seconds left.
The first free throw clanked hard off the back part of the rim. The second shot, taken with the full force of the West Valley student section’s voice filling the gym, rimmed out and it was on to overtime.
In the extra time West Valley attacked the hoop and drew fouls. Bear River settled for low percentage shots.
Mendonca would end up at the free throw line for a total of 10 free throws, hitting seven of them. West Valley shot a total of 12 free throws in overtime, sinking nine of them.
The Lady Bruins continued to struggle, only getting a 3-pointer from Lauren Runte in the overtime period. The senior guard finished with 12 points.
In the end, West Valley, the Northern Section D-IV champs, outscored Bear River 26-7 in the fourth and overtime periods.
For the game, West Valley hit 23-of-30 free throw attempts as a team. Bear River was 2-for-4 in the game.
The loss ends a solid season for Bear River where the Lady Bruins won 23 games and the Pioneer Valley League title.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.