BEAR RIVER HIGH – By Jessica Tanner – Jan. 18, 2020
After suffering a big loss to Sky View in their region opener, the Bear River boys’ basketball team hoped to turn things around, but they faced a heartbreaking loss to Ridgeline, 61-59, and dropped to 0-2 in Region 11. Determined to add a win to their record, they battled at Mountain Crest and claimed a hard-fought victory in overtime, 84-75.
“Their confidence is back up and we are capable,” said Coach Reggie Shaw. “At the end of the day they stepped up and pulled through—that is what good teams do—they find a way.”
The Bears kicked off the week by hosting Ridgeline on Wednesday, Jan. 16. The lead exchanged several times in the first half, but both teams headed into the locker rooms tied up at 29. Bear River jumped ahead in the third quarter, 50-47, but appeared to lose steam in the fourth.
With less than a minute left in the game, the Bears were down by one point. Luckily, Mark Huber, one of the best free throw shooters in the state, was sent to the line. He knocked down both to give the Bears a one-point lead.
On the next play the Riverhawks drove to the basket with little pressure. Ridgeline player, Kaden Cox, made the shot and one, to give them a two-point lead. With 11 seconds left, the Bears had a chance to answer back, but Ridgeline’s tough defense forced the Bears to call a timeout. With only two seconds left they had one final chance, but once again were unable to find the hoop and fell 61-59.
“We are not tough top to bottom. We let any guy go down the lane and finish. We just clear the path and let him go. We have to be tougher. Not sure who it is going to be, but someone has to step up. We are a soft basketball team right now and it is frustrating,” Shaw said.
“I am not happy with the way we are performing. We have to be better offensively and defensively. I get so caught up in what these other teams are going to do, but then we are not ready to play. I might need to open up the rotation and look at other guys on the bench who want to play,” he added.
On Friday, Jan. 18, the Bears were looking to turn things around in Mountain Crest, but it was the Mustangs who got the early lead. They were up 16-13 in the first quarter and 36-34 by halftime.
A spark from the Bears’ bench and a good talk in the locker room must have done the trick because Bear River outscored Mountain Crest 21-12 to take the lead, 55-48, in the third.
With a minute to go in regulation the ‘Stangs were only four points behind the Bears, which didn’t provide enough of a cushion since Mountain Crest’s Tanner Bone was on fire from the three-point line. Logan Litchford went to the line and made one free throw for a five-point lead, 69-64.
Bone answered back with a three-pointer making it a 69-67 ball game. Ren Fonnesbeck was then sent to the line and made one of his shots for a 70-67 lead. Nick LeFevre drove hard to the hoop putting the Mustangs within one, 70-69.
“Bone had not missed many shots all night,” said Shaw. “So, we had a guy face guard him, which opened up some lanes and we allowed them to get to the basket. For a minute that felt awfully similar to the Ridgeline game. The difference was we did not hang our head when things went bad, we came out and answered.”
Fonnesbeck was sent to the line again and stayed strong under the pressure by making both shots for a three-point lead, 72-69. With 25 seconds left the Mustangs were given three opportunities. Once again Bone drained a three and tied up the game. With only three seconds left, the Bears were not able to answer back and headed into overtime.
Bear River was done messing around and did not want to repeat last year’s loss in overtime. They outscored Mountain Crest 12-3 for the 84-75 win.
Huber led the Bears in scoring with 27 points. Litchford and Fonnesbeck were close behind with 16 and 14 points. Josh Payne and Marcus Callister added nine. While Jarret Giles, who started over Jace Jacobson due to a knee injury, added five.
“The most encouraging thing for me was that I was able to open up the bench and play guys who have not seen many minutes and they stepped up,” said Shaw. “I told Callister to go out and shoot the ball and then he goes three for three and scores nine points and helps us out on defense.”
The Bears will travel to Logan High on Wednesday, Jan. 22, and will then host Green Canyon on Friday, Jan. 24.
If you can’t make the games, be sure to watch them live with Bear River Live, www.brlivestream.com/live.
“We have a couple more tough games—region is never easy. We can open up the rotation and will work on our free throws and rebounding. I am excited for the kids. We are back on track,” Shaw added.