A Bear River fan slapped Jack McCrory on the back and congratulated the Bruin head coach on Friday’s 65-50 Pioneer Valley League win over Lincoln on Homecoming night.
“You guys shoot well,” the fan said.
“Well,” McCrory answered. “Jake does.”
That’s “Jake” as in Jacob Lazor, the Bear River sophomore who pulled the Bruins out of a shooting slump early Friday night and finished with a game-high 21 points.
Lincoln head coach Mike O’Connell looked like a genius through the first five minutes of action, as his 2-3 zone defense kept the Bruins at bay and out of the paint. Bear River settled for perimeter shots and came up empty on its first 13 field goal attempts.
“This was the first time we’d seen a zone in awhile,” McCrory said.
The Bruins didn’t break into the scoring column until three minutes, 15 seconds of the period, when Steve Sacher buried both ends of a two-shot foul. O’Connell’s zone helped the visiting Zebras to a 6-2 lead with three minutes left in the opening quarter.
Bear River kept pulling the trigger from beyond the 3-point arc and finally found the mark, as junior Dusty Tabellija hit a pair of 3-pointers and Lazor added his first of the night, giving the Bruins a 13-7 lead after one.
Lincoln kept things tight throughout the first half, trailing 28-23 at the break. But it was Lazor’s hot hand that opened the game up for the Bruins in the third quarter, spotting up for four 3-pointers in the period to propel the Bruins to a 54-35 cushion after three.
Lazor said the sight of Lincoln’s zone had him licking his chops.
“Oh yeah, I love zones,” said Lazor, who did not attempt a shot inside the arc and finished the night on 7-of-13 shooting. “They’re so much fun shooting against.
“Coach said we were rushing our shots early, taking shots with 10 seconds left on the shot clock. We just needed to pass it around the perimeter more and then shoot. We just had to take our time.”
McCrory said he took some extra time during preseason practices deciding whether Lazor would take the floor for the Bear River varsity.
“It’s amazing,” McCrory said. “We were debating whether he could play with the varsity. In the preseason we had to make a tough decision, and it turned out to be a pretty good one. He’s our zone-buster.
“The other guy who played a heck of a game was Dusty Tabellija. He can be sporadic, hot and cold, but he’s got the skills to even get better. It’s pretty sad that on Homecoming night, a sophomore and a junior carried the load.”
Tabellija, a junior, finished with a career-high 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 4 of 6 from a 3-point land. Sacher finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Tim Waechter added 10 boards to the Bruin cause.
Lincoln was led in scoring by Stephen Kellar and Haven Piatt, each finishing with eight points.
The loss was the ninth in 10 games for the Zebras, who fell to 1-6 in PVL action and 5-17 overall.
Bear River improved to 5-2 in league play and 12-8 on the year.
The Bruin junior varsity defeated Lincoln 55-25.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.