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Bruins continue school’s history of success

Stacy Hicklin

SACRAMENTO – With the win Saturday afternoon against Colfax at ARCO Arena, the Bear River girls basketball program added its ninth section championship to its résumé – an impressive feat considering the school first opened its doors in 1986.

And as second-year Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore coached his way to his first section championship, sitting a few rows behind him in support was former Bear River coaching legend Duwaine Ganskie – now the coach at Nevada Union.

Ganskie led Bear River to its previous eight titles, winning them all in a nine-year span from 1990-1998. The program’s first title came in 1990 against Justin-Siena, with the Bruins winning by a score of 55-44 at the University of California, Davis.

The Bruins were such a dominant team under his direction, however, that in a stretch of 13 years from 1990 to 2002, the Bruins played in 11 championship games.

But since the section championship game moved to ARCO Arena in 1999, the Bruins’ stranglehold on section championships loosened. Bear River played in three section title tilts (1999, 2001 and 2002), but lost them all to Del Oro, Center and St. Francis.

Bickmore’s squad this year finally reversed the ARCO curse, but not without a proud Ganskie looking on.

“I am just as excited for them (Bear River) winning as I was when I was coaching there,” Ganskie said after the win. “Bear River was where I really got my coaching start and I still have a lot of Bruin blood in me.

“I’m really excited for the school and for Jeff (Bickmore). It really gives him that legitimacy that he can coach.”

Bickmore was an assistant coach under Ganskie for two years before taking over the program in the fall of 2004. The two still remain close friends, talking on the phone frequently and often checking on one another’s scores.

“We talk all the time,” Bickmore confirmed. “I like to ask him for advice because he’s been in these situations before. He’s such a great resource and one of the best coaches I’ll ever know.”

Bickmore said the two even touched base for a few seconds during halftime of the championship game, with Ganskie telling him to “keep doing what you’re doing out there.”

The respect goes both ways too.

Ganskie admitted one of the biggest concerns he had before taking the Nevada Union coaching job was making sure a quality coach took over the Bruin basketball program.

“I was extremely happy to know the program was in good hands (when Bickmore got the job),” Ganskie said. “He’s a great coach and he’s really proved it this year.”


To contact sports writer Stacy Hicklin, e-mail stacyh@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

Bear River Section Championships:

1990 – Beat Justin-Siena, 55-44

1991 – Beat Justin-Siena, 48-39

1993 – Beat Bret Harte, 59-40

1994 – Beat Justin-Siena, 59-46

1995 – Beat St. Mary’s, 62-52

1996 – Beat Del Oro, 50-33

1997 – Beat Del Oro, 52-29

1998 – Beat Granite Bay, 46-36

2006 – Beat Colfax, 57-40


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