PREP BASKETBALL: Bear River boys gear up for tough PVL slate |

PREP BASKETBALL: Bear River boys gear up for tough PVL slate

Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie, right, and the Bruins boys basketball team breaks from a huddle during a game earlier this season. Ganskie announced his retirement after 29 seasons of coaching Thursday.
Photo by Brian O’Brien |

Most high school basketball coaches consider the non-league portion of the schedule an opportunity to find out what their team is capable of, work out the kinks and get ready for the league season.

After 14 non-league games the Bear River boys basketball team (9-5) has shown flashes of promise, worked out some kinks and now head into their Pioneer Valley League schedule.

In non-league play the Bruins won nine games behind strong guard play from senior David O’Brien (19.5 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game) and senior Jason Voter (8.7 points per game), as well as good post play from senior Dave Mastrella (7.1 points per game) and junior Landon Clark (4.9 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game). The Bruins also got solid play from junior Grant Skowronski, junior Soloman Branch, senior Connor Hollister and junior Jimmy Kelly.

So far this season Bear River is averaging 60.6 points per game with a high of 72, which they reached twice.

“I think we’ve done a good job of picking up the tempo of the game, a good job of creating easy buckets for ourselves.” said Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie.

On the defensive end, the Bruins are allowing an average of 55.4 points per game.

“We’re getting better defensively,” Ganskie said. “After the Union Mine game we needed to change things.”

After a 70-64 overtime loss to Union Mine Jan. 5, Bear River has won two straight games in which they held their opponent to 45 points or less.

The Bruins, who have playoff aspirations, have finished in last place in the PVL the past three seasons, notching only two league wins in that time. The last time Bear river won the PVL was in 2009, when they shared the title with Whitney, which is now in the Capital Valley Conference.

The Bruins start their quest through the PVL gauntlet tonight on the road against rival Colfax.

Here’s a quick look at what Colfax and the rest of the teams in the PVL bring to the court:

Colfax Falcons (11-5)

PVL record last season: 2-8 (fifth)

Last PVL title: 2013

The Falcons struggled in the PVL last season going just 2-8 with one of those losses coming against Bear River. This season they are off to a solid start with 11 wins, but enter league play on the heels of a 62-44 loss to El Camino.

Colfax is led by 6-foot, 4-inch sophomore Garren O’Keefe, who is averaging 14.2 points per game.

Senior guards Kyle Detwiler (10.1 points per game) and Matthew Harshman (9.9 points per game) are also weapons for the Falcons.

Through their non-league slate Colfax is averaging 45.6 points per game, and giving up 47.3 points per game.

The Bruins and Falcons tip off at 7 p.m. tonight at Colfax.

Lincoln (16-1)

PVL record last season: 6-4 (third)

Last PVL title: 2014

The Fighting Zebras have crushed the competition in non-league play, winning 15 straight to open the season before falling to Del Oro by six points Jan. 2. They followed the loss to Del Oro with a 47-44 victory over Rio Americano in which senior guard Scott Trembinski hit a game-winning 3-pointer from beyond the half court line.

Lincoln is averaging 61.9 points per game this season, and allowing just 47.8 points per game.

The Zebras open PVL play today against Placer. Bear River and Lincoln meet for the first time Jan. 22 at Bear River.

Placer (14-3)

PVL record last season: 9-1 (co-champs)

Last PVL title: 2015

Last season’s league co-champs are primed to make another run at the PVL banner.

Led by 6-foot, 8-inch junior Jeremy Lillis and 6-foot, 2-inch senior guard Derek Haney the Hillmen are a serious contender.

The Hillmen enter league play on a six-game winning streak. They average 69.2 points per game and give up 52.1 points per game. Placer is a talented and deep team that doesn’t lack in height.

The Hillmen already have a win over the Bruins this season, having beat Bear River 80-61 in the Kendall Arnett Tournament Championship Game.

Placer and Bear River link for the first time in PVL play Jan. 29 at Bear River.

Foothill (8-9)

PVL record last season: 9-1 (co-champs)

Last PVL title: 2015

Don’t be fooled by the Mustangs mediocre non-league record. Last season Foothill was 7-9 in non-league play and then went 9-1 in PVL play to snag a share of the league title.

Foothill did graduate their top two scorers from a season ago, but 6-foot, 2-inch junior Marcus Robertson is picking up the slack. As a sophomore Robertson was third on the team in scoring (9.3 points per game) but this season he is averaging 20.6 points per game and has yet to be held under 10 points in a game.

Foothill opens league play tonight at Center. The Bruins and the Mustangs clash for the first time Jan. 27 at Foothill.

Center (1-11)

PVL record last season: 3-7 (fourth)

Last PVL title: 2011

The Cougars opened the season with an eight-game losing streak, before knocking off Galt (1-14) for their first win of the season. Center has since lost three straight as they head into league play.

The Cougars are led by junior guard Francis Stover (8.6 points per game) and 6-foot, 4-inch junior post player Louie DeLeon-Bonds (8.1 points per game).

On the season, Center is scoring 45.5 points per game while allowing 62 per game.

The Cougars and Bruins meet up for the first time Jan. 20 at Bear River.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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