It was a game that felt like it was over before it even started as the Bear River girls basketball team dominated Rio Linda from the tip off to the final buzzer and never looked back on its way to a 47-20 victory Friday night in Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.
“We knew we were going to win,” said Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore. “We didn’t shoot that well. We just played hard defensively and didn’t give up any easy baskets.”
The Lady Bruins jumped out in front with a pair of 3-pointers, one by Savannah Welz and another by Cindy Solomon. Bear River’s Teryn Rath established her presence down low from the get go and led the offensive charge against the Lady Knights with a double-double. Solomon finished with nine points, all coming off shots behind the arc, and Rath tossed in 11 points to go along with 10 boards and five steals. Bear River dropped in eight 3-pointers as a team.
“We worked hard together as a team swinging around our passes,” said Rath.
Defensively, the Lady Bruins were absolutely suffocating, only allowing one basket to the Lady Knights the entire first half, which came with just 30 seconds to play in the second quarter. Rio Linda attained all its other points from free throws, shooting 7-of-11 from the line. Bear River took a 27-9 lead into the locker room thanks to a late 3-pointer by Michelle Whiting.
The pace of the game quickened in the second half with the referees calling fewer fouls. Contact sent players from both teams sprawling out on the floor without whistles being blown. The Lady Bruins came out and worked a press, forcing the Lady Knights into some turnovers and also caused several shot clock violations throughout the game. Bear River extended its lead to 35-15 with another 3-pointer in the final possession of the third quarter, this time off the fingertips of Jennifer Alberts.
“It’s nice when (the refs) let us play harder,” Rath said. “It’s more fun and interesting when they don’t call every little elbow.”
Bear River continued to move the ball well and find open looks, not always getting shots to fall, but it wasn’t anything its defense didn’t make up for. Kaitlyn Reina stepped up huge for the Lady Bruins pulling in 10 boards among the mayhem beneath the hoop, including a few on offense to allow her team additional shots. Reina also contributed four points and three assists in the route.
“We just stay poised and got to work on our press and the fundamentals,” Rath added.
Bear River opened the flood gates in the fourth quarter, pouring on a 9-0 run which extended the lead to 44-15 before dribbling out the final seconds of the game. The Lady Knights added a few late free throws down the stretch, but Bear River had its way.
“We had a lot of good shots,” Bickmore said. “It was nothing special tonight. We moved the ball, and it was a good team win.”
Bear River (14-1) will have one last game to fine tune when it hosts Hamilton today before opening Pioneer Valley League play next week.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4234.