Missed opportunities and an absent (ill) Justin Beskeen led to an uphill battle for the Bear River boys basketball team Tuesday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.
Last year’s Pioneer Valley League champion, Foothill, was too much for the short-handed Bruins and left with a, 47-31, victory.
“If we take care of the ball, then we’d get as many shots as (Foothill),” said Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie. “We needed to knock the shots down. Turnovers weren’t the difference. Nobody got hot. It was a good effort, I don’t fault their performance. We just weren’t up to the task tonight.”
Bear River kept it close early in the first quarter feeding the ball down low to Nick Bachus who used his size and strength to get to the basket and toss in some scores.
Bachus also gathered in six rebounds for the game, including a couple of offensive put-backs.
There were seven lead changes early on, but several missed shots and turnovers never allowed either offense to develop a definitive rhythm.
The Bruins opened the second quarter on a 6-2 run continuing to find Bachus inside, leading to a 15-12 advantage. From that point on Bear River lost its touch and offense struggled.
Foothill went on a 12-0 tear, led by DeShun Clay who came off the bench and knocked down three 3-pointers before the half. Clay finished with four 3-pointers and 14 points.
Bachus broke the Mustangs stride with a late basket to cut the deficit to 24-17.
“Defensively, (Clay) specifically, had too many good looks,” said Ganskie. “It really came down to offense though. Bachus did well for a bit. We went into him, just couldn’t get it out. We had good looks, but they just didn’t go down.”
The Mustangs opened the second half right where they left off — scoring.
A press defense forced a few Bruin turnovers, which Foothill capitalized on as it went on an 8-0 run to build a daunting 32-17 lead.
The Bruins battled back with a 9-4 run of their own led by Bachus who stepped up big for the Bruins in the paint, dropping in a game-high 15 points and adding three blocks on defense.
Tyler Hajewski contributed 10 points and Michael Raigoza had a team-high three steals and pair of assists.
Entering the fourth quarter down 36-26, Bear River desperately needed momentum to continue in its favor, but it never happened as the Mustangs opened with yet another 8-0 run on a combination of jump shots and floaters in the lane. Bear River was only able to muster five points in the game’s final eight minutes with a few free-throws and a late jump shot off the fingertips of Hajewski.
The Bruins moved the ball well at times to create open space, but there just wasn’t enough offensive production as Foothill was able to work the shot clock and secure a 16-point victory.
While Beskeen’s absence was definitely a big blow for Bear River, the team knew everyone would have to step up if it wanted to compete versus a tough Foothill squad.
“We almost didn’t make it to 30 points,” Ganskie said. “You can’t expect to win league games holding teams to less than 30. (Beskeen) didn’t make it to school today. We’re hopeful that he is back by Thursday.”
Bear River (13-5, 0-2 PVL) travels to play Placer Thursday.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.