Bruins’ warm spell is enough

Bear River locks up Ripon, gets just enough offense to make semifinal
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES — After watching his team’s shooting touch for a quarter Thursday night, Bear River High coach Jeff Bickmore wasn’t ambitious enough to hope for a hot streak. The Bruins just needed a stretch where they weren’t ice cold as they took on Ripon in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. “We finally had a run there where we were lukewarm,” Bickmore said. “We weren’t cold. I told our team before the game we have to play good defense so that we don’t have to rely on our offense and we did that.” Bear River dug in for a 40-31 victory to land a spot in the section semifinals for a second straight season. Senior Jenn Meylor scored half of the Bruins’ points while Sarah Hagar and Teryn Rath worked hard on the glass for Bear River (19-10). Hagar grabbed 12 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. The junior forward scored just six points, but her spinning drive to the hoop midway through the fourth quarter helped the Bruins pull away after Ripon had pulled to within five points at 32-27. Junior Savannah Welz followed with her only 3-pointer of the game moments later. “Sarah hit a big shot,” Welz said. “And then the 3-pointer was a momentum changer for our team.” The Bruins held a 6-4 lead after a forgettable first quarter for both teams. Leading 9-8, Bear River made its move. Hagar was on the bench with three fouls, but the Bruins went on an 11-2 run to close out the second quarter. Meylor hit a 3-pointer and hit four free throws. Rath added two put-backs. Reserves Cindy Solomon and Maddi Dunn came up big on defense. The second-quarter surge proved to be the difference as the teams traded baskets for much of the second half. Bear River has found a way to win all season despite its lack of size and experience. “Quite a lot of the time it’s been the case that we’ve won ugly games,” Bickmore said. “I thought we got some good shots early on and they just rimmed out or we got layups and just didn’t finish. We played pretty well, we just weren’t scoring. It felt like we should have had 60 points.” Welz continued to attack the basket and carried the Bear River offense even when shots weren’t falling. “What makes her so good is the way she handles herself,” Welz said of Meylor. “Even if she messes up a play, she keeps up her intensity and she will come back and make a play on defense.” Meylor added three steals and five rebounds in addition to her 20 points. Bear River will return to Tokay High in Lodi next Wednesday, where it will take on top-seeded Calaveras. The Redskins beat Liberty Ranch 53-35 Thursday night. Calaveras knocked off Bear River 62-40 in last year’s semifinal.