Bear River set for alumni games |

Bear River set for alumni games


What: Bear River Boys and Girls alumni basketball games

Who :Bear River alumni vs. Bear River varsity squads

When: 6 p.m., today

Where: Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium, BRHS

Admission: donations only

The Bear River Bruins will be hosting their traditional Thanksgiving eve Alumni Basketball Game(s) today at 6 p.m. inside the historic brick walls of Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium at Bear River High School.

Action tips off beginning with the Women’s Alumnae Game, which will be immediately followed by the Men’s Alumni Game. Admission is free and donations for the basketball program are encouraged. However, holiday hoops aren’t only thing Bear River will be cooking up on campus.

“We’re doing a chili cook off in the MPR starting at 5:30 p.m.,” said Bear River boys basketball coach Duwaine Ganskie. “The Alumni Game is a tradition that Jack McCrory started. I’ve been a part of it ever since I’ve been associated with the program for the last 16 years. It’s great to see all the varsity guys and girls again. I have a double-sided benefit to it since I’ve coached both programs. There are parents who come back, and they now have kids who are now at Bear River. Everyone here is thinking about Thanksgiving and family.”

A couple Bear River greats that will make their return include Michelle Wallace, whose rec team just won the Nevada County Adult Sports Association women’s basketball league title game, and Patrick Scott, who just recently graduated from Sonoma State where he led the Seawolves basketball squad in scoring with 15.6 points per game and averaged shooting 48 percent from the floor, including 41 percent from beyond the arc during his senior campaign.

“There’s a lot of anticipation among the varsity guys,” added Ganskie. “They’re all asking each other, ‘Who are you going to guard?’ It’s a lot of fun and a good challenge for the young guys. They’re putting on uniforms for the first time and get to play in front of a home crowd and some great ex-players. It’s kind of a coming out party.”

Bear River girls basketball coach Jeff Bickmore is also excited for the event. The player turnout has been known to be unpredictable, which makes the tradition all the more intriguing.

“I look forward to seeing girls that have played here over the years,” Bickmore said. “They all have that bond as Lady Bruins. It’s nice to see how they’re all doing. It’s always a surprise to see who shows up. Nobody really calls or asks to come. Girls automatically show up.”

As far as the competition goes, the varsity squads have a reputation of gobbling up victories, but every once in awhile, the alumni find some magic and pull off the upset.

“It’s of those things where we don’t want to lose,” said Bickmore, speaking on behalf of his varsity girls team. “There’s a lot more pressure on us. It’s usually hard playing against friends — not like a regular game. The level of the (alumni) isn’t what it used to be in high school, and varsity does a pretty good job of taking it to them. There was one year the alumni won, but the last few we’ve taken.”

All in all, it looks to be a wonderful evening at Bear River, full of hoops, family, friends and, of course, the chili, which can be enjoyed for a small fee from 5:30 p.m. through the duration of the event. Proceeds support Bear River basketball.

“People in the community have watched these girls play over the years,” added Bickmore. “It’s a lot of fun. Come on out. The more people the better.”

To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email

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