PREP BASKETBALL: Bruins look to build on last season’s success |

PREP BASKETBALL: Bruins look to build on last season’s success

Catherine Desplancke
Special to The Union
Bear River Bruins head coach Ralph Lewis talks to the team during a timeout at the Ganskie Tournament. Lewis and the Bruins won the Ganskie tourney, and open Kendall Arnett Tournament play tonight at Placer High School,
Elias Funez/

Bear River’s boys basketball head coach Ralph Lewis has an acronym to describe his team.

“HANADWEEDAD,” Lewis said. “HArd-Nosed-Aggressive-Defense-With-Extra-Effort-Desire-And-Determination.”

Last season the Bruins went 16-12 overall, 6-4 in league play and earned a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth for the first time since 2012. This year, they are looking to build on that success.

With the new season underway, Lewis said his team has the ability to do big things. 

“We have the potential to play some good basketball this year,” said Lewis, whose team has battled through a tough non-league slate and is off to a 4-6 start. “(I look forward to) seniors having success.”

This season’s roster includes seven seniors who have been leading by example, on and off the court.

“We are all very hard workers and all have a set goal this year,” said senior guard Brekyn Vasquez. “We are going to put on a show this year.”

Senior wing player Caleb Lowry, added “Our team has a lot of fun and great chemistry.”

In addition to their skill on the court, Lewis boasted about the senior class’ academic prosperity this season.

“Caleb Lowry, Brad Smith, Justin Powell, J.R. Malloy are part of our team GPA of 3.58,” said Lewis.

The Bruins are balanced on offense with senior shooting guard Justin Powell and Lowry leading the team in points per game. Defensivley, Smith is a force and leads the team in rebounds per game.

Another standout on the team includes sophomore power forward Harrison Alexander, who leads the team in offensive rebounds and blocks per game.

Smith discussed some of the leaders within the team.

“Caleb, Brekyn and Justin have been leaders on and off the court just by being good examples and being someone to ask questions and talk about the game,” said Smith.

Vasquez added, “All of our returning seniors have a positive role on and off the court.”

Lewis noted one of his team’s strongest characteristics is its maturity.

“The maturity and focus level of the team is standing out right now with our seniors,” he said.

Highlighting the season so far was the Bruins’ effort at the third annual Ganskie tournament, where they claimed the title with wins against Western Sierra, 58-55, Forest Lake Christian, 93-57, and Golden Sierra, 88-46. Smith earned MVP honors and Brekyn Vasquez was named to the All-Tourney team.

“Something that stood out to me is how much better we can grow as a team and push ourselves to the max,” said Smith. “Because we haven’t even scraped the tip of what we can do.”

Lowry added, “As long as we keep progressing steadily throughout the season our team has great potential this season. The schedule we have played has been very tough and playing these big schools has been hard, but it is preparing us for the future.”

The team has championship goals for the remainder of the season.

“I think a league championship would make this season successful,” said Vasquez. 

Smith imagined having even more success this season.

“We can make it far as playoffs go and hopefully play for the section title,” said Smith.

Lowry felt similarly to Vasquez and Smith.

“I think people should know that we are a great team with a lot of potential,” said Lowry. “Having success in the league and getting a home playoff game would make this season a success.”

Smith noted that team cohesion will be key to the Bruins finding success season.

“Attitude and staying together as a team I think will make this a successful season,” said Smith. “Our personality varies as a team but we all have eyes on one goal and want to win.”

The Bruins will be playing in the 78th annual Kendall Arnett Tournament today through Saturday. They open at 8 p.m. tonight against host Placer.

Overall, this varsity team believes its ready for any challenge it may face in the 2019-20 season.

“I think people should know that we are not here to play around,” said Smith. “We have goals in mind and are working every day to accomplish.”

Catherine Desplancke is a Bear River High School student, who is interning at The Union.

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