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Bruins fall to defending state champs

PIEDMONT ” Walking into the two-time defending Division IV state champion’s gym in hopes of leaving with a win is a tall task for any squad.

Add to the equation Piedmont’s athletic guards and in-your-face pressure and the job becomes even bleaker. Despite staying within striking distance of the host Highlanders for the first quarter, the Bear River girls basketball team was unable to overcome 19 first-half turnovers en route to a 63-29 loss Thursday night in the NorCal semi-finals.

“It was just one of those games where they were the better team,” Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore said. “And we didn’t play that well either, which made for a bad combination.



“They’re young and they’ll recover quickly. And they’ll remember all the great things we did this season. What we accomplished this year was not automatic by any means.”

Two players in particular, seniors Kristin Landre and Kaitlyn Spence, exited the gym focusing moreso on their team’s Pioneer Valley League Championship and Sac-Joaquin Section title than the season-ending loss.




Spence stood in the door of the locker room with a proud smile on her face as the memories of her previous four years flashed through her mind. She recalled the days she sat in the stands hoping that some day too she would run up and down the court in a Bear River uniform.

“Bear River has an awesome basketball program and being part of it will be some of my best memories ever,” Spence said. “I’ve made friends here that I’ll have for years and years. I’m not that upset about the loss either because I know we lost to a really good team.”

A team that forced the Bruins into 31 turnovers and limited them to just 29 points Ð their lowest-scoring game all season. Bear River scored just two points in the third quarter. The previous low was 34 points in the third game of the season in a loss to Vanden.

Junior standout Lauren Juric was the only Bruin player who scored more than three points. Juric ended with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

Piedmont sophomore point guard Casey Morris, who has already drawn attention from nearly every major Division I college in the country, threw a triple-double at the Bruins. She led all scorers with 15 points. Most impressive of her stats, however, were her 11 steals.

“I think the girls came in here this year thinking they had a lot to prove,” Piedmont coach Bryan Gardere said. “People expected Piedmont to fall off the map and disappear after some of the players we lost.”

The Bruins led for the first three minutes of the game, but the Highlanders quickly began to capitalize on turnovers, jumping to a 14-5 lead with one minute and five seconds remaining in the quarter.

Bear River cut Piedmont’s lead to 14-10 with a Juric bucket to open the second quarter, but could come no closer. Piedmont ended the half outscoring the Bruins 24-4.

The Bruins ended the season with a 24-8 overall record.

PIEDMONT 63, BEAR RIVER 29

BR 8 6 2 13 – 29

P 14 24 12 13 – 63

BEAR RIVER (29): Chandre Uno 0 0-0 0, Shannon Dayton 0 0-0 0, Erin Noud 0 2-2 2, Tanya Copeland 1 0-0 3, Katie Thompson 1 0-0 3, Rachel Welz 0 0-0 0, Kristin Landre 1 0-0 2, Lauren Juric 5 4-8 14, Adrienne Brown 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Spence 1 0-0 3, Jocelyn Fry 1 0-0 2. Totals: 10 6-10 29.

PIEDMONT (63): Airka Warren 3 4-6 10, Claire Douglass 1 0-0 2, Sophie Coysh 0 0-0 0, Casey Morris 6 2-4 15, Chazney Morris 5 0-0 10, Annie Crangle 6 0-0 13, Jamie Albers 0 0-0 0, Clara Tate 0 0-0 0, Raphael Cobb 4 1-2 9, Sarah Tamulski 2 0-0 4. Totals: 27 7-12 63.

Fouled out: none. Total fouls: BR-8, P-11. Technical fouls: none.

ooo

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


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