GALT – The look on Chelsea Haverty’s face after her No.4 Bear River girls basketball team’s 59-43 loss to top-seeded St. Mary’s (Stockton) in the teams’ Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal showdown at Galt High Wednesday spoke volumes.
The senior wing, who saw her team hang with USA Today’s 24th-ranked squad and 2003 CIF state Division IV champ for most of the first half before succumbing to its special brand of pressure defense in the end, was the picture of both disappointment and pure exhaustion.
“They’re just an all-around tough team. They could turn passes into shots,” said Haverty, who led the Bruin scorers with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. “We prepared for them because we knew they were going to be tough, but we’ve never faced a press like theirs.”
St. Mary’s will face No. 11 Hogan (Vallejo), 60-55 upset winners over second-seeded Sierra (Manteca), for all of the marbles at Arco Arena 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Bruin head coach Duwaine Ganskie echoed Haverty’s comments.
“That’s an awfully good team. We’re not used to playing a team of that caliber,” he said. “We tried to prepare for their pressure in practice, but it’s never the same as the real thing. What amazed me was the way they got to every ball. It seemed like they were playing with six or seven players at times.”
“The thing about pressure is you’re either going to handle it and beat it, or it’s going to beat you. Tonight it beat us,” he added. “The difference tonight was we weren’t able to run anything resembling a recognizable offense. We were scrambling the whole game.”
Despite a sluggish start in which it turned the ball over five of its first six possessions, Bear River (26-3 overall) never let the Rams build more than seven-point lead for most of the first half.
Down 15-8 with seven minutes, one second left in the second quarter the two-time defending Pioneer Valley League champion Bruins got consecutive 3-pointers from Chrysten Cotney, Allison Cooley and Haverty to a single Rams’ field goal to tie the score at 17-17.
The teams traded baskets twice more before St. Marys’super-sophomore guard Jacki Gemelos took over.
Gemelos, who entered the game scoring over 20 points a game, helped spark a 10-1 run to end the quarter with a converted three-point play and a driving layup.
“The think the last minutes of the first half were crucial. If we could have gone in tied or down by two points, maybe it would have been a closer game in the second half,” Ganskie said.
Bear River, which trailed by as much as 17 points in the second half, got the lead to 13 twice but could get no closer.
“Even though we lost tonight, we definitely had a lot of high points this year,” Haverty said. “We finished the year strong. We had a lot of good times. One of the saddest things is going to have to say goodbye to all of these girls. We’re family.”
Kayla Smith finished with nine points. Cooley chipped in eight points.
Julie Fry, who was forced to leave the game in the second half with a knee injury, and Karli Kephart each had five points. Chrysten Cotney had three points. Freshman Lauren Juric had two points.
“We had a fantastic year. I think we did just about everything we could have this season,” Ganskie said. “I’m really proud of my seniors. I’m gonna hate to see them go, but they did their part in keeping the Bear River tradition of winning alive and well.”
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With a balanced offensive attack and a strong defensive effort, the Nevada Union football team went on the road Friday night and knocked off Napa, 33-14.