Bruins ride a rally to Arco |

Bruins ride a rally to Arco

For most of the season, Bear River’s girls basketball team has needed surges in the second half to put teams away.

Tuesday’s afternoon playoff game was no different.

Top-seeded Bear River, deadlocked with El Camino at intermission, picked up its play and put down the Lady Eagles, 54-43, in the Division III Sac-Joaquin semifinal playoff contest at Galt High School.

Meaghan Noud paced the Lady Bruins with a season-high 27 points and seven rebounds. Teammate Amy Pistone added 10 points and three steals. Sierra Foothill League most valuable player Briana Thomas, who spent the majority of the game on the bench in foul trouble, was held to four points.

Top-seeded Bear River (24-7) will face St. Francis for the Division III section title, in a game to be held at Arco Arena Friday.

“Our kids worked so hard on defense, holding another team in the low 40s,” Bear River coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “We’ve been doing that consistently all year, great team defense.”

The Lady Bruins’ defense held the Lady Eagles to one field goal and two free throws in the third quarter. At the other end of the court, the Lady Bruins repeatedly got the ball in Noud’s hands. The junior forward scored nine points in the quarter, including two baskets in a five-second span.

Noud, finished Bear River’s third-quarter scoring with a 10-footer and a free throw with a little over a minute left to give the Lady Bruins their largest lead to that juncture of the game, 36-27.

“I would be lying if I said we were perfectly confident (at halftime),” Noud said. “I think our team expects to do well and expects to get ahead, which is a good thing. We had the right mentality, which is that it is 0-0 at the half, it is a new game, so let’s start over.”

A three-point play by El Camino’s Xochalla Lanham and two free throws by teammate Jourdan Willard cut a 10-point Bear River lead to five midway through the fourth quarter. Willard finished with a team-high 19 points.

Two free throws by Pistone began a Bear River response that would put the game out of reach. Noud followed with a drive for basket, and Pistone added a 10-footer to improve Bear River’s advantage to 11.

A pair of free throws by El Camino’s Kathryn Cavilear were countered with another basket and two free throws by Noud to give Bear River a comfortable 13-point advantage with just over a minute to play.

“(Noud) is finally getting comfortable to where she knows she can do what she did today,” Ganskie said. “She is a winner, a great athlete who has put a lot of time in and it is really starting to click for her.”

The first three quarters of the contest were physical. Noud bled from the nose after diving for a loose ball in the second quarter. Nicole Scott was stunned for a minute or so in the third quarter after hitting her head on the hardwood while trying to draw a charge.

Thomas picked up two quick fouls Tuesday, and sat down for the rest of the first half. In her place, Scott filled the void with eight points, all in the first half.

“I knew this would be a battle,” Ganskie said. “El Camino is a young aggressive team that played physical, but we are getting better every game, and that is a good sign.”

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