Tough way to start |

Tough way to start

Justin Beskeen, Bear River boys basketball
Photo for The Union by Walter Ford |

Auburn — In a tightly contested battle at the
71st Annual Kendall Arnett Basketball Tournament, it was the outside shooting of Woodcreek prevailed over Bear River’s inside game.

The Timberwolves got hot in the second half and were able to shoot themselves to a 66-58 win over the Bruins in the first round of the tournament.

With seven of Woodcreek’s eight 3-pointers coming in the second half, the Timberwolves were able to overcome Justin Beskeen’s 32 points and 12 rebounds to hand Bear River its second loss of the season.

Bear River (10-2) scored 52 of its 58 points in the paint but did not make a 3-pointer all game.

“It’s a team game, and I can’t do it all by myself, and we all know that,” Beskeen said. “All the games we’ve won usually, I’m the high scorer, but usually there is someone right behind me and like four players in double digits. That’s when we win games. Sometimes our team’s on, and sometimes we’re not.”

After Beskeen’s 32 points, Travis Anderson scored 15, but the rest of the team combined for just 11 points.

“I thought Justin was great. He was basically willing us down to the finish line,” Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “Travis Anderson also played excellent. His strength and ability to attack the hoop was impressive.”

The Bruins held a 28-21 halftime lead, but back-to back 3-pointers in the opening minute of the third quarter from Woodcreek’s Leyva James brought the game to within a point.

Beskeen responded with a pair of buckets to push the Bruin lead to 32-27, but the Timberwolves’ Noah Blackwell drained a pair of 3s to grab the lead for Woodcreek.

Bear River’s Travis Anderson put in a pair of baskets and Beskeen added six more points before the quarter was over, but Woodcreek continued to hang with the Bruins never falling behind by more than three points.

The Timberwolves got four points from Drew Vaterlaus and four more from Max Morse in the final 45 seconds of the quarter to take a 43-42 lead into the final stanza.

In the fourth, Beskeen and Anderson went back to work dominating the paint. After a Beskeen basket, Woodcreek answered with a 3-pointer, but Anderson came right back with a bucket while being fouled. Anderson made the free throw, giving him his 15th point of the night and giving Bear River a 47-46 advantage with about six minutes left in the game.

Another 3-ball from James gave Woodcreek the lead but close-range shots from Michael Raigoza and Beskeen put the Bruins up 51-49.

Raigoza finished with four points, five assists and numerous steals.

The two squads traded baskets until Bear River led 55-53 with 2:33 left in the game.

The Timberwolves got a bucket from Nick Howe to tie things up, and that’s when Woodcreek’s Blackwell took over. The sophomore point guard drove to the basket for a tough two points and drew the foul. Blackwell completed the three-point play to give Woodcreek the 58-55 edge. After the Bruins answered with a put-back by Andrew Harris, Blackwell drove to the hoop, and as the Bear River defense collapsed in on him, he found Morse for an easy lay in.

The Bruins failed to score on their next possession, and Blackwell again drove hard inside, and again the Bruin defense crashed in, but this time Blackwell kicked it out to Tyler Milani who sank the open 3-pointer to put Woodcreek up 63-57 with less than a minute to go.

Blackwell finished with a team-high 20 points for Woodcreek.

Bear River missed its desperation 3-point attempts down the stretch, and Woodcreek hit their free throws to take the first-round matchup.

Turnovers really hurt Bear River in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter as Woodcreek’s press led to bad Bruin passes and subsequent turnovers.

“They put a lot of pressure on us in the back court, and we had a real hard time getting into our offense,”Ganskie said. “It was frustrating because they did a good job of taking us out of our game plan.”

For the Bruins, it marks another Kendall Arnett Tournament in which they won’t be champions, but with a pair of games left to play before its conclusion, they can still leave with a winning record.

The Bruins will take on the loser of the Colfax vs. Del Campo game at 3:30 p.m. today.

“Moving forward we need to take care of the ball better,” Ganskie said. “We can’t turn it over as much as we did tonight. Really to be ahead with two minutes to go with how many turnovers we had was a good sign. We definitely have to value the basketball better and get better looks at the basket.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email or (530) 477-4232.

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