Bear River girls win league
No students stormed the floor. No players leapt in celebration. Not even the fans seemed to care that Bear River had just laid claim to a league title.
It wasn’t clear whether they realized it or not, but Bear River’s varsity girls basketball team did clinch at least a share of the Pioneer Valley League championship Tuesday night, defeating West Campus by a 66-27 count.
The win was Bear River’s 10th against no losses in the PVL, meaning that even if the Bruins were to be upset at Mesa Verde on Thursday or at home against Colfax on Feb. 17, Bear River – at the very least – would still share the PVL prize.
But knowing the three-year history of Pioneer Valley League girls basketball, the best bet is on the Bruins to take the crown all to themselves.
In three years of PVL play, Bear River has produced a 34-0 record.
And that’s why Jeff Bickmore has his hands full each time his Bruins take the court against league foes. But the dilemma has nothing to do with the opponent. The challenge for Bear River’s first-year coach is how he will keep his girls hustling on defense and executing on the offensive end, especially when they’ve already built a lead like Tuesday’s 23-8, first-quarter score.
“We’re trying to keep up the intensity and play at a high level on defense,” said Bickmore. “We still have tests with Rocklin, Mesa Verde and Colfax. Then we’ll see where we’re at for the playoffs.”
Rocklin, who the Bruins host on Feb. 15, has a 14-10 record overall and a 5-4 Sierra Foothill League mark. Mesa Verde and Colfax, the final two stops on Bear River’s path to a third-straight unbeaten PVL season, have already fallen victim to the Bruins once. Bear River beat Mesa Verde 49-26 on Jan. 19 and edged rival Colfax 43-41 on the Falcons’ home floor on Jan. 25.
If not for a strong second half in the first showdown with Colfax – and a 22-point effort that night from senior Julie Fry – Bear River’s three-year unbeaten PVL streak might not still be intact.
Fry also made her presence felt in Tuesday’s win with a 12-point, 14-rebound, 6-steal performance in three quarters of action. Ten of her boards came before the first half ended.
Senior Karli Kephart led the Bruins in scoring with a 16-point night, one that saw her high-arching release land 4-of-9 three pointers.
The Bruin bench made the most of its extra minutes due to Bear River’s large lead. Brenna Weeks, a senior guard, had four points and nine rebounds, while junior Kaitlyn Spence scored 13 points for the Bruins – 11 of which came on 5-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter alone. Lauren Juric, a sophomore, grabbed six rebounds, blocked three shots and scored two points in the post.
“Offensively, we’re trying not to turn the ball over and trying to get good quality shots. That’s what we’re working on. And when the game was not out of reach yet, I thought we did a good job at that.”
If at any point the game was within the Warriors reach, it wasn’t for long. Bear River sped out to a 14-7 edge with two minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, after Kephart canned a three-pointer to follow up six straight points from Fry.
Bear River then kept the Warriors without a single point for the next five minutes. In the meantime, the Bruins ran off to a 31-7 advantage with nearly six minutes to go in the first half.
West Campus finished the game with more turnovers (31) than total points (27). Bear River also won the battle of the boards, grabbing 39 rebounds to the Warriors’ 24.
Pioneer Valley League
WC (3-7) 7 4 9 8 – 27
BR (10-0) 23 12 9 22 – 66
West Campus: Jennifer Loi 5 2-7 12, Miracle Husband 3 0-0 6, Sara Nobida 1 2-4 4, Hailey Moore 1 0-0 2, Safiya Pinkston 0 0-0 0, Kristy Ferguson 1 0-0 3, Catina Fiel 0 0-0 0, Andrea Paz 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 4-11 27.
Bear River: Karli Kephart 6 0-0 16, Chandre Ono 2 0-0 6, Kristin Landre 0 2-2 2, Julie Fry 4 3-4 12, Lauren Juric 1 0-0 2, Brenna Weeks 1 2-4 4, Rachel Harter 0 0-0 0, Cori Eden 2 0-0 4, Colleen Noud 1 1-2 3, Kaitlyn Spence 6 0-0 13, Kacie Fredrickson 2 0-0 4. Totals: 25 8-12 66.
Rebounds: West Campus 24 (Loi 6, Nobida 5); Bear River 39 (Fry 14, Weeks 9, Juric 6).
Turnovers: West Campus 31, Bear River 14
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.