Emotional end – Sixth-seeded Bear River falls on the road to No. 3 Del Oro
LOOMIS – Bear River senior guard Karli Kephart knew things looked bleak for her team after entering the fourth quarter, as the Bruins trailed Del Oro 40-27 in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
She also knew it would be her last time on the court as a Bruin, if she and her teammates couldn’t make up that ground.
Her face was not painted with its usual grin, but rather a look of shear determination as she left the huddle to begin the final quarter of her high school career.
Despite trying to will her team to a comeback and scoring eight of Bear River’s nine fourth-quarter points, the journey had come to an end for Kephart and her four fellow seniors.
As the final buzzer sounded, No. 6 Bear River had lost by a final score of 53-36 to No. 3 Del Oro.
With 2:05 left in the game, senior captain Julie Fry went to the bench for the final time. Her eyes followed the floor with four years of memories rushing through her head.
With 40 seconds left in the game, Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore took Kephart out to a standing ovation from the crowd. Kephart barely made it to the sidelines before a sob escaped her mouth and tears filled her eyes.
Every season ends, but only one team is left with dry eyes as the final team left standing hoists a state championship banner – Bickmore knew this, but hoped his team could have lived to see another game.
“We lost to a really good team tonight,” Bickmore said. “This being my first year as a head coach I will never forget this group. They came a long way from the beginning of the season. If I knew we were going to go 23-5, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.”
The game remained close through the first half with Del Oro taking a 17-16 halftime lead. Then, with 5:07 remaining in the third quarter, the Golden Eagles rattled off three unanswered three-pointers to go ahead 30-21.
“Our goal going into the game was not to give up three-pointers, but we gave up a couple critical threes that put us down for good,” Bickmore said.
The loss marked the end of a high school career for five Bruin players: Kephart, Fry, Brenna Weeks, Cory Eden and Colleen Noud.
After the game, the seniors emerged from the locker room together and requested to talk to the media as a group – wanting to share one last moment together as Bruin basketball players.
“We hope that people remember that we really cared about this team and all we wanted to do was to play to a high potential,” said Kephart who ended with a game-high 21 points. “I will miss the camaraderie we had with each other and how the five of us really became close friends.”
Weeks added, “We want the program to keep on doing well and we want people to remember we helped to keep it going.”
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.