After an opening quarter that featured seven lead changes and both teams scoring 16 points, the Bear River girls basketball team turned it up a notch.
The Lady Bruins held Lincoln to just 10 points for the remainder of the game on their way to a 53-26 victory Friday in Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.
“It was the same thing last time we played them at the Lincoln Tournament,” said Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore. “In the first half, we were flat-footed. We shut them down in the third quarter.”
The Lady Bruins not only shut Lincoln down in the third quarter, they shut them out completely. For over eight minutes, the Fighting Zebras couldn’t buy a basket. Bear River took the lead for good early in the second quarter and held a 27-20 advantage coming out of the locker room to open the second half. It was then Bear River introduced Lincoln to its unforgiving press defense.
“The press helped our energy level,” Bickmore said. “It made us more aggressive.”
Bear River went on a 16-0 run that wasn’t answered until the fourth quarter.
Cindy Solomon started things off with a nice spin move to open the lane up for an easy score, then after a steal, it was Sarah Hagar’s turn, as she tossed one in.
After yet another steal, Kaitlyn Reina battled for real estate beneath the hoop and dropped in two-points. After a timeout by the panicking Zebras, Bear River continued to own the momentum and the game with its ferocious defense.
Hagar soon contributed another basket and led the team with 11 points, seven boards, three assists and three steals. Solomon fired one home from downtown as she finished with seven points. Lauren Runte connected from beyond the arc as she contributed eight points for the game.
“We played well together and made open shots.” said junior post player Teryn Rath. “We’re getting more comfortable with the press, and it should help us out at the end of the season.”
Lincoln’s bigs, Karla McCommas and Cassandra James, kept the Lady Zebras in it early with their swiftness, creating space and backing hard into the lane, but the Lady Bruins’ defense put a clamp on that act in the second half, swarming the ball and forcing bad passes.
It was the second Pioneer Valley League game of the season for both teams, and Bear River has a 2-0 mark to show for it.
Bear River moved the ball extraordinarily well and made scores look easy at times with Reina stepping up big, scoring 10 points, creating six steals and grabbing 10 boards for the game.
“We played really good as a team and just stayed positive,” Reina said. “We realized we should come out stronger.”
The Lady Bruins continued to agitate Lincoln down the stretch on their way to victory. The Fighting Zebras (11-8, 0-2 PVL) finally scored 48 seconds into the fourth quarter but never fully recovered from their drought, as Bear River continued its dominance with a late 3-pointer by Jennifer Alberts and another basket by Runte to make the margin of victory 27 points.
“Hagar and Runte played with a lot of speed,” Bickmore said. “They were really active on offense and defense. It really sparked the rest of the team.”
Bear River (17-1, 2-0 PVL) will continue league play Wednesday at Colfax.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4234.