In front of a raucous crowd at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium Thursday night, the Bear River girls basketball team avenged its only Pioneer Valley League loss of the season in spectacular fashion.
The Lady Bruins (22-2, 7-1 PVL) obliterated Colfax, 58-23, with staunch defense and balanced scoring to take sole possession of first place in the PVL.
“The big difference in this game was that we didn’t come out scared,” Bear River point guard Cindy Solomon said. “We came out confident, and we played as a team and scored well. Our shooting was good. It was just an awesome feeling, and we played way better than we did last time.”
The Lady Bruins lost to Colfax (16-8, 6-2) the first time the teams met, 50-41, Jan. 16.
“Last time, we were a little overwhelmed, and we played not to mess up,” Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore said. “We were a lot looser tonight. We moved a lot better offensively, defensively we took away the things that they like to do, and it was just a good effort. We kept our intensity level up for most the game, and I’m just really proud of them.”
The Lady Bruins handled the Lady Falcons in almost every aspect of the game, out-rebounding them 43-25, forcing 16 turnovers and committing only eight and holding Colfax to seven or fewer points in every quarter.
“It starts with Maddie Dunn guarding one of their better players on the perimeter and really taking her out of it, and then Cindy Solomon did an excellent job on their point guard, not giving her any looks and getting out on the 3-point shot, and our post players did a really good job. It was just a good team effort,” Bickmore said.
Bear River’s offense was led by Kaitlyn Reina with 13 points and 14 rebounds, Savannah Welz added 10, Solomon had nine, and Dunn and Teryn Rath each chipped in eight points.
Senior Sarah Hagar added an impressive all-around game, scoring five points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out four assists and nabbing five steals.
Welz opened the game with a 3-pointer to get the ball rolling, and the Lady Bruins never slowed. Bear River outscored Colfax 15-7 in the first.
“Tonight we came out more focused than probably ever before,” Welz said. “We just wanted to win worse than ever.”
In the second, the Lady Falcons closed to within four at 17-13, but the Lady Bruins clawed back, ending the quarter on a 9-0 run behind points from Solomon, Rath, Welz and Reina.
In the third, Bear River blew the game wide open with an 18-2 run to start the quarter in which six different Lady Bruins scored.
Headed into fourth, Bear River led 46-19 as the stunned Colfax crowd sat quietly, and the Bear River student section chanted, “This is easy,” over and over.
“It was a great crowd,” Bickmore said. “Chris Bean, our activities director, is awesome, and our leadership is awesome. We get the best crowds of anyone in our league. It was really impressive tonight, and I know their attendance made a big difference for us. I really appreciate what they did for us tonight.”
The fourth quarter was more of the same as Bear River outscored Colfax 12-4 to close it out.
The Lady Bruins now control their league championship destiny with just two games left in PVL play.
“We gotta beat Placer,” Bickmore said. “This is a great win and everything, but none of those points count toward Placer. We need to make sure we get prepared and are ready to go for Tuesday, otherwise we’re going to end up sharing a league title, and we’d much rather have it to ourselves.”
Bear River has beaten Placer twice this season by a combined difference of nine points. The Lady Bruins face Placer Tuesday at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium where they are 8-0 this season.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.