Bear River Boys basketball star Justin Beskeen is back for his third stint on the varsity squad, and in his senior season he has his sights set on a league championship and a trip to the section finals.
“We definitely want to win league,” he said. “We want to make it to Arco this year.”
An All-Pioneer Valley League first-team selection last season, Beskeen leads an experienced and hungry Bruin team into the 2012-13 campaign.
“I feel that we are quicker than last year,” he said. “If we are able to use our speed, we might be able to take (Foothill) down. We don’t have the size. We have short guys, but we have fast guys.”
The Bruins finished 12-15 overall and 4-6 in the PVL last season, good enough for a postseason berth in which they made it to the second round where they were ousted by Calaveras.
Bear River finished in a three-way tie for third place in the PVL with Placer and Lincoln. Foothill won the league with a perfect 10-0 record and Center was second at 7-3 in league.
This season, Bear River is focused on defense, said Beskeen. That will be paramount if the team hopes to climb the ranks of the very difficult PVL.
Last season Beskeen led the Bruins with 18.7 points per game to go with 7.9 rebounds per game.
“He’s our go-to guy,” Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie said of Beskeen. “He’s got great gamesmanship. He just knows how to play when the ball goes up and it’s game time. We definitely look for him to score, rebound, be long on defense and create problems for the other team.”
After Beskeen, Bear River’s next three top scorers from a year ago have graduated.
This season, the Bruins will look to seniors Michael Raigoza, Nick Bachus and Tyler Hajewski to fill the scoring void left by the departures of Brandon Wooner, Trevor McGhee and Jonny Cassar.
Raigoza offers a high-energy scoring option for the Bruins, said Ganskie.
“He’s a great leader, a captain, and he’s coming off an all-league football season,” Ganskie said. “I really like his leadership and energy out there.”
Joining Beskeen in the post is 6-foot, 8-inch Nick Bachus. In his third year on the varsity squad, Bachus offers another scoring option in the paint. Bachus boasts a short-range jumper and the ability to crash the boards and get put-back points.
“We are counting on him to come through for us this year with some big play,” Ganskie said.
Offering a scoring threat off the bench is Tyler Hajewski. The 6-foot, 2-inch wing man has improved his scoring ability over the offseason and has impressed his coaches and teammates.
“He shoots the ball really well,” Ganskie said. “I am impressed with his ability to get to the rim. He’s another kid that is longer than his height and knows how to score.”
Filling the void left by McGhee’s departure and holding down the point guard position this season is junior Charlie Espinosa.
“What I like about Charlie is that he is long,” Ganskie said. “For us, he is a pretty tall point guard, and I like that about him. He shoots the ball well and plays with a lot of passion.”
Espinosa said taking over the point guard position as a junior carries a certain amount of pressure, but he gladly accepts it.
“I feel like I can handle the pressure,” he said. “I feel like I thrive under pressure. I still have a long way to go and I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I feel like I can do some damage.”
The Bruins are off to a good start with double-digit wins over Dixon and Head-Royce already this season.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org