Thursday, December 22, 2016
Box Elder High School
Bear River High School
The annual rivalry game between cross-county high schools did not disappoint the home-town fans as host Bear River High School defeated the larger Box Elder Bees 53-43 in a hard-fought, intense battle. Both teams played with the tenacity of a meaningful, pride-filled game as both squads wanted to win bragging rights for another year. Right on par with the signifigance of this game was both student-bodies as they showed up in droves. The Bear River students, affectionately referred to as the Dog Pound, arrived in their best Holiday attire and were creatively dressed in all manner of elf, Santa and Christmas present costumes. This added to the raucous atmosphere and high-stakes environment and seemed to motivate the Bear River boys to play at a high level throughout the night.
Box Elder entered the game with two 6’7 starters in Tracer Wilson and Porter Clawson as well as sharp-shooting and 26 point per game Max Watson who stands 6’4. In contrast, Bear River countered with 6’4 Mike Litchford and 6’3 Jake Dahle. Despite the obvious size disadvantage the Bears went right inside from the get-go and scored two quick points on the opening tip. Both teams see-sawed back and forth throughout the first period. Mike Litchford scored six first-quarter points folled by Gunner Sorensen with five and Jake Dahle with a triple. The crowd was delighted to see a tight, knock-down, drag-out affair as the first stanza ended 14-12 in favor of Bear River. High scoring Max Watson could only muster a pair of free-throws in the quarter as the Bear River defense was stifling. Riley Fonnesbeck and Gavin Fronk did an outstanding job defensively all night making it very difficult for Max to get an open look.
The second quarter was much of the same as the Bear defense was the difference in this game with each possession causing Box Elder difficulty running an offense and getting their star player involved. The high-scoring Box Elder offense found the bottom of the net just three times in the quarter and put just 8 points on the board. Mike Litchford himself scored 8 second-quarter points and the Bears extended the lead to 27-20 at the intermission.
Bear River maintained the lead throughout the game and actually pushed it to 9 points on two occassions but BE star Max Watson wasn’t going away easily. He finally found a little breathing room and scored 7 points in the third period and seemed to breath a little life into the Box Elder confidence. Four Bear River players scored in the 3rd with Riley Fonnesbeck and Mark Huber netting two each and Gunner Sorensen and big Mike finishing with four apiece. BE trimmed the lead by two ending the quarter down just 39-34.
The fourth period got wild and wooly as would be expected in a game of this magnitude. With Bear River enjoying the nine point margin for a short time, Box Elder made a run behind the play of Watson and Wilson. With just under three minutes to play in the game the Bees had narrowed the lead to just just two, 42-40. On the ensuing possession and needing to go the full length of the court with the ball out of bounds and facing full-court defensive pressure, Bear River managed to execute a break-away lay-up pushing the lead back to four. Next, Jake Dahle made a fantastic defensive steal and Mark Huber finished it up with a bucket and the lead was 6 with under two to go. The Bears defense stiffened and six consecutive free throws by freshman Mark Huber and Gavin Fronk sealed the deal for the Bears.
The crowd was awesome and the student-body electric. It was a great night for the boys in White and Red. Mike Litchford finished the game with 20 points followed by Mark Huber with 10, Gunner Sorensen with 9, Jake Dahle with 7, Gavin Fronk with 5 and Riley Fonnesbeck with 2.