Hitting the game winner | TheUnion.com

Hitting the game winner

Six years of basketball.

Countless minutes, numerous baskets.

And yet, it took until Friday’s 43-41 victory over Granite Bay for senior Briana Thomas to get the first buzzer beater of her career.

“It was all reflexes,” Thomas said of the put-back of an Amy Pistone miss with one second left. “I didn’t have time to think more than ‘ball’, ‘hoop’, ‘ball into hoop.'”

Thomas, who came into Friday’s contest second to Meaghan Noud in scoring and tops on the team in rebounding, contributed with eight rebounds in the first half, then displayed her scoring side in the second half.

In the fourth quarter, with Granite Bay refusing to go away, the Bruins turned almost exclusively to Thomas, who consistently managed to get good position near the rim.

“She is definitely a hard person to guard inside because she is so strong,” Bear River coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “And (Granite Bay) was opening up their defense and allowing her to have that position. The kids then did a nice job of getting her the ball.”

Thomas scored eight of her team’s 10 points in the fourth quarter, but missed a 6-foot shot with 18 seconds left that would have given Bear River a two-possession lead.

Hey, the go-to person isn’t going to make every shot, right?

“That is what I live for,” Thomas said of seeing the ball often with the game on the line. “It gets me pumped up. But sometimes it gets me too pumped and try to make shots but have too much energy.”

Thomas leads the team in a category that coach Ganskie created called “total courage points.” The category honors and reflects the smaller plays that slip through the cracks of common statistical sheets, the type of plays that often decide games.

“Her leading that category is solely because she has so many offensive rebounds,” Ganskie said. “And in fact, tonight she won the game on an offensive rebound. It is easy to overlook offensive rebounds, but it takes a little more courage to spin and get to the basket and in position for that rebound. And tonight she was there when we needed her most.”

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