Division III – Bruins survive rough start to beat Hillmen | TheUnion.com

Division III – Bruins survive rough start to beat Hillmen

The Bear River girls basketball team spotted rival Placer 10 points Thursday night. Then, the Bruins went 2 for 13 from behind the 3-point line. Bear River never held the lead in the first half.

Still, the fourth-seeded Bruins were able to fight back and get key baskets during a second-round Sac-Joaquin Section home playoff victory, downing the No. 5 seeded Hillmen 44-37.

After the Bruins fought back the entire second quarter and only trailed by one at the half, the lead changed hands five times in the third quarter. But a fourth-quarter surge was what finally put the game away.

Barely holding a 33-30 lead, Bruins senior Chelsea Haverty hit a 3-pointer with three minutes, 28 seconds to go in the game to put Bear River up 36-30.

“As the ball was leaving her hand, I asked my assistant coach, ‘Why are we still shooting 3’s?'” Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “He told me, ‘Hey, one of them has to go in.'”

The Bruins picked the right trey to hit.

“It was something we definitely needed,” Haverty said. “We were playing good at that point and got a run on them. It felt good to get a cushion. I was thinking, ‘Finally, one fell.’ It just happened at a really good time.”

It put a charge into the team, the crowd and the coaches.

With their largest lead to that point in the game, Bruin junior Julie Fry decided to keep the momentum in Bear River’s favor.

Just 12 seconds after Haverty’s 3-pointer, Fry stole a pass as the Hillmen were bringing the ball up court and went fast the other way for a layup. That put the crowd on its feet and the Bruins in control of the game.

“I think (Fry) was tired,” Ganskie said. “She started out early with more adrenaline than her stamina could handle. But she had some key baskets. (That steal) was a big play. It’s one of the few times we got points directly off a turnover, since we’re not a team that presses often.”

Placer never got closer than five points the rest of the game.

From the opening tip and for the next six minutes, the Bruins looked outmatched. Placer took the tip and scored 29 seconds later. With two minutes left in the quarter, the Hillmen were up 10-0.

“In the first quarter, I think we were a little flustered,” Fry said. “We weren’t playing our game. The coach told us to slow down, and it worked. I think the adrenaline was running higher than we wanted it to.”

Ganskie felt a little adrenaline, too, when his team was down double digits before putting a point on the board.

“Sometimes in our gym, we just get too excited,” Ganskie said. “We were rushing our shots and gambling on defense, and nothing was working. When you’re down 10-0, doubts start to creep in.”

Finally, someone took the lid off Bear River’s hoop and the Bruins trailed 10-4 heading for the second quarter.

“Those two baskets before the end of the quarter helped a lot,” Ganskie said. “They helped us get back on pace.”

The Bruins tied the game at 16-16 with three minutes left in the half and trailed 18-17 at halftime. Bear River led 26-24 heading for the final quarter before catching fire and putting the game away.

The Bruins were led by Kayla Smith’s 14 points, followed by Chrysten Cotney and Haverty, each with nine. Fry added seven along with four rebounds and a team-leading four steals.

Allison Cooley led the way with six rebounds while Haverty had three assists.

Bear River now moves on to face No. 1 seed St. Mary’s on Wednesday at Galt High School.

“St. Mary’s is a hard challenge,” Haverty said. “They’re ranked nationally. We’re going to have to focus the next few days of practice, but Placer was a good preparation for them.”

Ganskie didn’t mince words when talking about Wednesday’s opponent.

“They’re an awesome time,” Ganskie said. “We have to look at this realistically. They’re a very good team and we’re going to have to play our best game of the year to beat them.

“The nice part is that we get the chance to see if we can pull it off. If we lose this one (against Placer), we’re done.”

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