The Bear River Winter Classic turned out to be just that, a true classic as the Bears defeated South Summit, North Sanpete and Snow Canyon in the annual hoop extravaganza. Bear River defeated the three teams by an average of 20 points and turned in some very solid offensive and defensive performances. The Bears also averaged 71 points per game which speaks to the level of offensive fire power the team has opened up the season with thus far.
On Saturday December 3rd the Bears played an undefeated and very talented Snow Canyon team in what represented the championship game of the weekend. Both teams were excited to test their mettle against the other and the excitement and tension was evident on the players faces as they prepared to face off. Snow Canyon was led by Braden Baker, a very gifted junior that brought in to the game a very glossy 22 point/game average and a very smooth shooting touch. He along with teammate Kam Webster at 11 points per game make up a very lethal combination.
The game turned out as good as was anticipated as both teams slugged it out for the first three quarters with neither team able to take control. The teams were knotted at 14 apiece after the first quarter as both teams leaned heavily on one player to score baskets. Baker had nine first quarter points and the Bears had a devil of a time containing his ability to score from the outside or stop his penetration. He hit two 3 point shots and got to the foul line for six free throws making 3. On the flip side Snow Canyon could not contain Mike Litchford in the paint and had no answer as his Bear teammates found him inside time and again for easy baskets. Mike ended the quarter with 12 points.
The second quarter turned out to be a much better quarter for the Bears as they finally found a way to slow down the Snow Canyon Warriors. Jake Dahle had six points in the quarter and Mike Litchford continued scoring in bunches and he added another eight points totaling 20 for the half. Bear River went into the locker room with a tenuous five point lead, 30-25.
The second half made for very exciting and entertaining basketball. The third quarter was a back and forth affair as neither team wanted to allow the other to pull away. The game was a high intensity, high energy game and the third quarter epitomized the competitve nature of the contest. Gunner Sorensen contributed eight big points and tons of his usual high-energy play and helped Bear River maintain a slight lead as the quarter ended 46-42, Bear River. Riley Fonnesbeck came off the bench in the third quarter to nail a big 3-point shot and help swing momentum in the Bears direction.
The fourth quarter was something of an anomaly. A most unusal ending to a fantastic game. The Bear defense was fantastic throughout the night but never as apparrant as the 4th quarter. Snow Canyon star Baker was totally frustrated as Parker Coombs dogged him from one end of the court to the other and never gave him any opportunities to help his team. As a consequence the Warrior offense was totally shut down and they struggled mightily as the frustration mounted. In contrast, the Bear offense was feeding off the Snow Canyon ineptitude and between Mike Litchford’s 12 fourth quarter points, Rily Fonnesbeck’s 8 and parker Coomb’s 7 Bear River out scored Snow Canyon 27-8 in the final period. Parker and Riley were big spark plugs off the bench and gave the Bears the push necessary to blow open a huge lead that obviously rattled the Warriors.
Bear River played very well in all phases of the game. A telling stat was the Bear River free-throw shooting performance. The Bears finished the game converting 26 of 28 free-throw attempts.
The Bears hosted nine games throughout the three-day ordeal: three sophomore games, three JV games and three varsity games and Bear River won eight of the nine games. The JV team lost a close game to Snow Canyon on Saturday afternoon but the sophomore team and varsity team were each 3-0 on the weekend.
The Bear River Basketball team would like to thank the Booster Club and all of the volunteers that made the Bear River Winter Classic a success. All involved mentioned what a wonderful event it was and how impressed they were with the quality of the tournament and the hospitality displayed by the organizers and volunteers. Thanks again to those who made the weekend possible.