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Crusaders snuff out Bruins’ fire

Scott scores a game-high 25, but Modesto Christian pulls away to reach semis
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES —The luster of a brilliant first quarter from the Bear River High boys basketball team faded in a blur of navy blue and red in the second half Friday night. Modesto Christian fought past the inspired Bruins, leaving Bear River with a 70-47 victory to advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals. For all the Crusaders’ brawn with 6-8, 230-pound forward Reeves Nelson and 6-5, 210-pound forward Johnny Hutton, it was their speed that broke the game open after a tight first half. “If we’re in a good position then we run,” Modesto Christian junior Isaiah Burse said. “If they stop us we run the offense, but we’re a running team.” Bear River led by as many as nine points in the first half. Senior Patrick Scott could not be stopped in the first quarter. He hit two 3-pointers to open the game and scored nine in the first frame to forge the Bruins to a 17-14 lead. The Crusaders used a 19-6 run to close out the first half and grab a 36-30 lead at the break. Nelson, who finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, sparked the fast break with his board work and Burse dished out nine assists as Modesto Christian took command in the third quarter. Hutton also scored 20, including a backbreaking 3-pointer late in the third quarter to put the visitors up by 13 points. The Crusaders scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. “I think we played just as strong as them on the inside,” Scott said. “In the third or fourth quarter they had three or four fast breaks in a row and that kind of hurt us.” Scott finished with a game-high 25 points, but no other Bruins reached double figures. Junior point guard Johnny Jewett scored nine. Junior Jordan Beskeen grabbed eight rebounds and had two steals. “Everyone played their hearts out,” Jewett said. “The first quarter was definitely exciting.” The Bear River crowd was in a frenzy as the home team came out on fire shooting the ball. The Bruins went up 13-5 on Jewett’s 3-pointer late in the first quarter. Bear River opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run and led 24-17 before Modesto Christian battled back. “In the beginning of the season if we had gone down by nine or 10 like that, we would have gave up,” Burse said. “But it was just teamwork. We’ve worked hard and we’re jelling right now. We feel good.” The Bruins battled foul trouble for much of the game. Scott had two fouls early in the first quarter. Tanner Mathias picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter and fouled out with 3:38 left in the game. It was a tough end to the season for Bear River (22-7), which had earned the No. 3 seed in the playoffs after claiming the co-championship in the Pioneer Valley League. Modesto Christian (20-8) was a heavy favorite in the game despite their No. 6 seed. “Their size was tough,” said Jewett, who had five assists. The Crusaders have won seven straight section titles (five at the Division V level) and are strong contenders for the state crown this. Their No. 6 seed was used as motivation. “It was a slap in the face,” Burse said. “I thought we should have been higher than that, but we can’t do anything about it. We’re just determined to win it.”