Prep basketball: Colfax cruises past Bear River in Pioneer Valley League opener |

Prep basketball: Colfax cruises past Bear River in Pioneer Valley League opener

Bear River's Dave Mastrella goes inside during a game against Colfax Thursday at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium. Colfax won the game 71-53.
Photo by Brian O’Brien |

Falcons 71, Bruins 53

BR: David O’Brien – 25 points, 6 steals

BR: Ben O’Lena - 9 points, 5 assists

C: John Kirwan – 17 points, 11 Rebounds

C: Cameron Howes – 17 points

The struggle continues.

The Bear River boys basketball team dropped their Pioneer Valley League opener Thursday, falling to rival Colfax 71-53 in front of a raucous crowd at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.

It’s the Bruins’ 16th straight league loss dating back to Jan. 25, 2013, and their sixth straight loss to Colfax.

“We turned the ball over way too many times in the first half,” said Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie. “We missed free throws, didn’t score and turned the ball over. We had 21 points at the half and we should have had 31. You turn the ball over that many times in a big game, it makes it tough.”

The Bruins (10-6, 0-1 PVL) got into a hole early after sloppy play on the offensive end that opened opportunities for the Falcons. Colfax grabbed a 31-14 edge in the second quarter and looked to run the Bruins out of their own gym, but that’s when the Bruins junior captain David O’Brien turned it on and gave his team some momentum heading into halftime. O’Brien scored seven straight points to close the half, including a 3-pointer and a slicing layup at the buzzer.

O’Brien led all scorers with 25 points, 18 of which came in the second half. He also nabbed six steals in the game.

Bear River’s other junior captain Ben O’Lena opened the second half with a 3-pointer to pull the game within seven, but that was as close as it would get. O’Lena finished with nine points to go with five assists.

In the second half, Colfax’s 6-foot, 8-inch senior John Kirwan went to work scoring 15 of his 17 points in the final two quarters.

The Bruins had held Kirwan in check in the first half, but as the game wore on, so did Kirwan on the Bruins’ defense.

“That’s what size does to you. It wears you down,” said Ganskie. “I think our legs got a little tired, Travis (Whitehead) got hurt and we just kind of lost focus on staying connected to him.”

Whitehead, a full 5-inches shorter than Kirwan, had done an impressive job in the first half limiting the big man’s opportunities, but suffered a minor injury in the third and had to exit the game. Whitehead did return in the fourth and finished the game with four points and nine rebounds.

After falling behind by 17 points in the third, the Bruins pulled to within 10 points to close the quarter on a flurry of O’Brien baskets often set up by Jason Voter who added great energy off the bench.

In the fourth though, Colfax (9-8, 1-0 PVL) ran away with it, building a lead as large as 23 points before finally winning by 18.

Coming up big for Colfax, in addition to Kirwan, was Cameron Howes with 17 points, Ryan Hallman with 11 points and Kyle Detwiler with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.

The Falcons hit six 3-pointers in the game to the Bruins’ four. Colfax also outshot Bear River at the free throw line, hitting 15-of-19 from the charity stripe compared to the Bruins’ 7-of-15 effort.

“We got to be better,” said Ganskie. “We know we got to be better. We are better than that. I would say the effort was there just the execution wasn’t.”

Before the game Ganskie was honored with a trophy and signed ball commemorating his 600th win as a prep basketball coach, which occurred earlier this season against Truckee. Ganskie currently has 607 wins in his 29-year career coaching boys and girls basketball.

Next up for the Bruins is another PVL bout, this time facing Center on the road Tuesday.

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

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