Sharing isn’t meant for everyone, especially among bitter rivals.
When Bear River athletes suit up in cardinal and gray to take to the basketball court, the football field or whatever sporting space it may be, there just is no room for the forest green, white and silver of Colfax.
Last year however, the Lady Bruins basketball team ended its Pioneer Valley League season 8-2, tied with Colfax as co-champions. Sharing a trophy isn’t something this Bear River team wants to emphasize. This senior-stacked squad is hungry for it all, and the first chomp comes at 7 p.m. today when Bear River laces up for the visiting Lady Falcons.
“I think we can go far this year,” said Bear River senior Maddi Dunn earlier this season. “Hopefully we won’t have to share it like we did last year.”
Over the past three years in girls hoops’ action, the PVL has boiled down to Bear River and Colfax. The Lady Bruins shared the PVL tile with the Lady Falcons back in the 2010-2011 season, then Colfax won it in 2011-2012, and of course, last year, the teams shared it again.
Well, now the stage is set for yet another battle, the first of two this season, and it’s time for one of these teams to rise up and proclaim itself as the front runner.
Colfax (13-5, 2-0 PVL) won its first two league games on the road, beating out Center and Foothill. Bear River (15-2, 2-0 PVL) earned its first pair of league wins at home over Placer and most recently at Lincoln. All of the teams’ league victories have come with convincing double digit margins.
The Lady Falcons rely on a high-scoring offense to overpower opponents. They’re led by senior Raegan Lillie, who drops in a team-high 11.8 points per game. Kylee Bauer, a 6-foot 1-inch junior, has also been a force to be reckoned with, tossing in 10.4 points per game to go with a team-high 9.2 boards.
Stopping Colfax will be no easy task. The squad shoots 65 percent from the floor, including a deadly 55 percent from beyond the arc.
“We talked about (Colfax’s) personnel and some of the things they run,” said Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore. “They’re a good team and well coached. It’s difficult to prepare for them. Playing them is a real grind. Both teams don’t give up anything easy and both play really well half court man-to-man defense.”
A stingy defense will likely be the Lady Bruins best weapon as it has been all season. Allowing just 30.4 points per game, compared to the 45.9 that the Lady Falcons have been yielding, Bear River can look to impose its will and create some momentum. Second chance points and points off turnovers could very well add up to be the difference.
Bear River’s offensive attack has been physical down low with senior Kaitlyn Reina leading the team with 13.8 points per game, followed by Teryn Rath with 9.1. When Reina and Rath aren’t the ones dominating the paint, it’s been senior Lauren Runte making noise from outside. Runte has been the team’s biggest threat from the perimeter, shooting 49 percent from downtown.
With the 10-game PVL season two games young, there’s still quite a way to go for everyone, but it’s clear that this early clash between rivals is going to provide a mental boost for the winner and the inside track for a solely owned title.
“Some girls are friends with girls at Colfax,” added Bickmore. “The familiarity makes it interesting. This game isn’t (for the PVL title) but it’s still a nice way to start off if you can get this win.”
In last season’s league meetings, the Lady Bruins and Lady Falcons split a pair of games, each winning on their home court. Colfax won the first meeting 50-41, but just two weeks later, Bear River defeated the Falcons in a 58-23 rout. It just goes to show that anything can happen.
“I’m excited every time Bear River and Colfax get together,” said Bear River assistant coach Dan Hicks, who coached at Colfax off and on for about 30 years.
“It’s been a pivotal game for championships and bragging rights for all of the local area. It’s fun to step back and watch Jeff get the kids excited.”
The players have plenty of reason to be excited, too, with a packed house full of fans supporting both teams, and not to mention a highly spirited Bruin Nation.
The noise will be up and so will the intensity. There’s no reason to believe that tonight’s game will be anything short of spectacular.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.