Bruins pull a close one out of the fire |

Bruins pull a close one out of the fire

John HartBear River's Briana Thomas drives the ball in the paint against Granite Bay's Sarah Bolter (right) while Heather Morehouse (left)closes in.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

One theory has it that Bear River’s Amy Pistone was simply trying to give teammate Briana Thomas a belated holiday gift of a basketball – a ball that also just happened to be used Friday night against Granite Bay to, you know, test it out.

Another theory, more plausible, has Pistone displaying some advanced math skills by throwing the ball on purpose off the corner of the backboard as the easiest way to get the ball past a row of defenders to Thomas in the final seconds of the game.

Pistone put this notion forward herself, though did so a bit sheepishly and with a smattering of laughter.

“I’m passing the play off now as an assist, because it could have been an assist, right,” Pistone said.

The third theory, the most likely because it was spoken more often and more softly than any other, had Pistone firing up a 17-foot shot with four seconds left and the game tied.

The rushed shot, which Pistone took because she thought there was one second at best left on the clock, ricocheted to Thomas in the paint. Thomas then made the putback when there was truly one second left on the clock to lift the Lady Bruins to a dramatic 43-41 victory over the Grizzlies at Bear River High School.

Friday’s victory keeps Bear River (10-6, 2-0 SFL) atop the Sierra Foothill League standings, while Granite Bay (12-5 overall) drops to 1-1 in the SFL.

“I told our players that a win is a win,” Bear River coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “Amy did the right thing by getting the shot off. She just got there too fast. I don’t think she realized she still had a few seconds left.”

The basket by Thomas, the first game-winner of her career, capped an eight-point fourth quarter performance and left her with a game-high of 14 points.

“She is big, physical, tough, a good ball player,” Granite Bay coach Paul Gonzalez said.

Bear River led for most of the contest, and built an eight-point lead when Cassie Smith hit a trey with 3:30 left in the third quarter.

Granite Bay’s Katie Bauer made a putback and three free throws to narrow that advantage to three points going into the fourth quarter.

Teammate Suzy Peterson then made a trey and a basket off a baseline drive to give the Grizzlies a 35-33 lead with 5:41 left.

Bear River responded by pounding the ball inside to Thomas in the paint, where she tossed up jump hooks and turnaround attempts. Thomas’ third fourth-quarter basket from the lane with 3:07 left recaptured the lead for the Bruins.

Pistone scored on a driving lay-up with 2:37 left to give Bear River a 41-37 lead.

Granite Bay’s Andrea Cooper made a pair of free throws on the Grizzlies’ next possession.

The teams traded possessions and turnovers, neither able to score again until Granite Bay’s Peterson went to the line with eight second left.

Peterson, who had been held to nine points until then, swished the first, and kissed in the second to tie the game for the last time before Thomas’ dramatics.

“If felt good to make that shot because I really did not want to go into overtime,” Thomas said. “I had four fouls, and I didn’t know if I’d last a few more minutes.”

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