The No. 1 seed Bear River girls basketball squad stormed out to an early lead and never looked back on its way to a 63–31 victory over Hilmar in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
The Lady Bruins were all business Tuesday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium, making the most of their opportunities as the team scored 20 points in the first quarter and held the Lady Yellowjackets to just three.
“(Hilmar) wasn’t defending too well,” said Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore. “We just ran our offense. It was nothing special.”
The Lady Bruins’ defense fueled the scoring frenzy, forcing 23 turnovers on the night. Stolen passes frequently resulted in transition scores, and Hilmar was only able to score 13 points in the first half as it had a tough time finding any rhythm. Nearly all of the Lady Yellowjackets’ shots were contested as Bear River hardly gave up any space and pounced on sloppy passes.
“We had a lot of easy shots,” said Bickmore. “We even missed a lot we should have made.”
During a two-minute stretch near the end of the first quarter, Bear River scored eight points running similar plays four consecutive times where a player would cut beneath the hoop along the baseline and be wide open for a quick layup.
“The intensity for the first playoff game kept us going,” said Sarah Hagar. “We’re not burnt out from league. We got in the post, which worked well … if not, we kicked it out for a 3-pointer.”
The Lady Bruins had four players score in double digits with Hagar and Teryn Rath leading the way, each tossing in a game-high 14 points. Kaitlyn Reina and Rath’s mere presence commanded attention down low and opened up perimeter shots for their teammates. Rath finished with a double-double, hauling in 12 rebounds to go with her 14 points. Reina tossed in 13 points and grabbed seven boards. Savannah Welz knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter and contributed 12 points for the game.
“I approached the game the same way, staying as aggressive as possible,” said Rath. “Our passing wasn’t the greatest, but so many people were open on different cuts. Lauren Runte did a great job defensively too.”
Bear River’s ball movement allowed it to convert 51 percent of its shots making 23-of-45 attempts from the floor. Cindy Solomon made a lot of quick passes to set up her teammates as she finished with six assists. Hilmar trailed 37-13 at the half and went on to make five 3-pointers for the game but never really threatened.
In the third quarter, Bear River’s defense eased up a bit as it allowed 12 points, but the offense extended its lead to 50-25 as Reina hit one from behind the arc to close the quarter.
“We were kind of lazy and didn’t come out as confident or focused,” added Hagar.
It wasn’t an all-around perfect performance, according to Bickmore either.
“We didn’t know a whole lot about (Hilmar),” Bickmore said. “We had to match up on the fly. I didn’t think we played that well defensively. I knew if we came out with a lot of energy and played our hardest on every possession, we would have a good result.”
Bear River (24-3) hosts Dixon (19-8) Thursday.
Lady Falcons fall in 1st round
The Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team returned to the playoffs Tuesday after a two-year absence, but the stay was a short one.
The No. 9 seeded Lady Falcons fell on the road to No. 8 seed Central Catholic, 70-27.
Central Catholic jumped out to a 23-8 lead after one and extended its advantage to 41-14 by halftime.
The Central Catholic defense was stellar, and didn’t allow FLC to score in double digits in any quarter.
The Lady Raiders were led by Margaret Gallo and her 18 points.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.