Balanced Bruins roar past Ripon

Bear River’s quick guards dominate, set up second-round showdown at CBS
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES — The only star player on the court inside Jack McCrory Gym Tuesday night was wearing a red Ripon jersey. While Lauren Feddersen poured in 23 points to lead the Indians, it was Bear River’s suffocating defense and signature balance that stole the show in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff clash. The fifth-seeded Bruins ran away with a 57-36 victory, advancing to face No. 4 Christian Brothers on Thursday in Sacramento. As usual, Bear River got contributions from all over its roster Tuesday. Senior Whitney Smith heated up in the second half and finished with 13 points. Junior Kelsey Uno hustled for four steals to go with her 11 points and sophomore Jenn Meylor harassed the Indians all night with five steals and 11 points. “We like to share the ball and we don’t care who gets the credit as long as we get the win,” Smith said. The Bruins had a tough time with the 6-foot Feddersen inside, but no other Ripon player scored more than four points. Bear River also forced 27 turnovers, many of which led to easy baskets. “We got on a couple runs and got some quick baskets off of turnovers,” Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore said. “Even our freshman Sarah Hagar made some plays rotating. I was really proud of her. I knew they didn’t handle the ball particularly well and I was really hoping we’d get some offense out of that.” The Bruins have had just one 20-point scorer all season, but their balance has become an asset, as teams cannot focus on one player defensively. “We kind of just score by committee, which is kind of nice,” Bickmore said. “Everyone can score and they all played really well tonight.” Ripon trailed from the start and could not sustain a rally against Bear River’s quick, trapping defense. After building a 24-13 lead by halftime, the Bruins put the game away with a flurry of steals and baskets in transition late in the third quarter. “We came out really scrappy in the third quarter,” Smith said. “It’s hard because we’re smaller (than most teams), but we’re scrappy.” Senior Riley Pearson scored 10 points and added eight rebounds for the Bruins (20-7), who will be looking for some revenge on Thursday. Christian Brothers knocked Bear River out of the playoffs last season. Christian Brothers beat Hughson 71-28 Tuesday. The Falcons (18-11) are young and talented, but Bickmore said his Bruins wouldn’t be intimidated. “I definitely think we can beat Christian Brothers. They’re a good team, but we can beat them,” Bickmore said. “The cool thing is, if we win that one then we go to NorCals. We would probably face Modesto Christian, which would be tough, but it would be cool to get there and just see how we do.”