Bear River takes on Menlo in NorCal girls basketball tournament
So often in sports people resort to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality.
If that was the case the Bear River girls basketball team likely wouldn’t have gotten a No. 4 seed and much needed bye in the first round of the NorCal basketball tournament.
But, luckily for the Lady Bruins (26-4), they did enough during the regular season and section playoffs to earn a high seed and a second round home game.
The high seed and bye came as a surprise to Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore.
“I didn’t expect such a high seed,” he said. “I thought we might get a home game, but I didn’t think we would be seeded high enough to get a bye.”
The week off has allowed Bear River’s star post player Kaitlyn Reina to rest an ankle injury she sustained during the third quarter of the March 2 section championship game against Bradshaw Christian. Reina did return in the fourth quarter of that game, but was limited before fouling out shortly after reentering the contest.
Tonight Reina and the Lady Bruins return to the court, for the first time since their disappointing loss to in the section championship, to face No. 5 seed Menlo (21-9) for the right to play in the NorCal semifinals.
The Menlo Lady Knights are led by head coach John Paye Jr, and are coming off a Central Coast Division IV Section title. Menlo is riding a four game win streak, including a convincing 55-40 win over Moreau Catholic in the first round of the NorCal Tournament.
“We are for sure playing our best basketball of the season right now,” Paye said.
The biggest test for the Lady Bruins will be slowing the dominant inside game of Menlo’s Drew Edelman.
The 6-foot, 4-inch senior center averages 20.5 points per game and pulls down 13.2 rebounds per game.
“(Edelman) will be a big concern for us,” Bickmore said. “She’s big, she’s strong, and she is going to be a challenge. She is very aggressive, she pushes and shoves her way in there, and she really works hard. She will be the best post player we have seen this season.”
The Bruins may not have anyone on the roster that can match Edelman’s size, but their post players are not afraid to get physical.
Bear River’s Teryn Rath has been a terror on the glass in the post season with multiple double digit rebounding games, including a 15 rebound performance in the section semifinals. Rath is also averaging 8.5 points per game in the playoffs and 1.3 blocks.
Reina, who often is the teams go to scorer, is averaging 15.3 points per game in the playoffs, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
If the Lady Bruins hope to advance to Tuesday’s NorCal semifinal match they will need their shooters to find their touch. Bear River shot 30 percent from the field, 24 percent from 3-point and 22 percent from the charity stripe in the section championship game and is a combined 34.5 percent from the field in the playoffs.
Bickmore said the Lady Bruins worked a lot on shooting during practice this week.
Whether or not Bear River can hit their shots is what will determine the game, said Paye.
“We are hoping to shoot well, and we’re hoping that Bear River doesn’t.” Paye said. “It’s always easier to shoot well in your home gym, and we just hope they don’t and we’re able to beat (Bear River’s) scrappy defense.”
The Lady Bruins’ defense has been where they hang their hat this post season, allowing just 41 points per playoff game, and allowing only one team to break 50 points.
Menlo isn’t afraid to flex its defensive muscles either, giving up just 41.3 points per game in the post season, and holding all four of its playoff opponents to 47 points or less.
Bear River and Menlo will do battle at 7 p.m. tonight at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium for the right to play in the NorCal semifinals Tuesday.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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