Bear River made the long -distance trip to Cedar City, Utah and the campus of Southern Utah University to take on the highly ranked Tigers of Orem High School. Orem went a perfect 12-0 in Region 10 play and had won 17 consecutive games coming into the quarterfinal match-up with the 2nd seeded Bears of Region 12. Undeterred, the Bears approached the game with confidence as they had prepared dutifully throughout the previous week ‘s practice and had a game plan in their pocket with which to believe in.
As the jump ball went up in the air the Bears drew a collective deep breath and went to work defending the larger Tigers. Ike Richards, Orem’s 6’5 big man was a load inside coupled with a crafty point-guard in Taft Mitchell and their Mr. Football and all-everything wide receiver, Puka Nakua. They are a tough match-up for anybody, much less the 6’0 and under Bear River team. Never flinching, the Bears steadily went to work to defend the unsuspecting Orem team while the Bear’s quickness and precision began to cause problems. Wyatt the “Jet” Roholt hit a three followed by Parker “PiCO” Coombs making one of his own. Ren Fonnesbeck made two 2’s and a couple of free-throws while Mark Huber nailed four FT’s in a row to take a two point lead after quarter one.
The second quarter went back and forth as both teams tallied 13 points in the quarter and Bear River clung to the two point lead at the half, 29-27. If the game stays close the favored team is usually the team that begins to feel the pressure and this game was a classic example of that idea.
The third quarter found the Bears out-scoring the vaunted Tigers by five, more fully elevating the pressure that Orem was feeling. Could this little Bear River team possibly beat the ever-dangerous and confident Orem Tigers? The Bears believed they could and Orem was now starting to see the hunger in the Bear River players’ eyes! Ren Fonnesbeck nailed two big 3’s in the third and the Jet added another. Bear River was now able to spread the floor and take advantage of their quickness and athleticism against the bigger, less-quick Tigers. The game plan was on point and the Tigers could feel it tightening.
The fourth quarter will go down in 4A basketball lore as the Chernobyl Melt-Down of Utah high school basketball. As the Bears continued to execute like, as one Orem coach said after the game: “A well-oiled machine”, and stretched their lead out to 70-54, the Orem players lost all composure. First, an Orem player fouled out of the game and made a scene leaving the floor and then shortly thereafter another fouled out and as he was leaving the floor shouted, at the top of his lungs, a profanity that reverberated around the mostly empty Centrum gymnasium. This caused, for whatever reason, another Orem player, that had gone to the bench with 5 fouls to storm the court and go after two of the Bear players. As he made his way across the court he was apprehended by coaches and security personnel which prevented any further damage to occur. Obviously several technical fouls were assessed on the play which resulted in Mark Huber going to the free-throw line to shoot 6 free-throws, of which he made all 6. Game over!
With the upset complete, the Bear players celebrated into the night as the mighty Bears took down the big-city Orem Tigers. Life never tasted so sweet! It was a great team victory with Mark Huber leading the way with 21 points going 13/14 from the free-throw line. Wyatt Roholt added 19, Ren Fonnesbeck 18 and Parker Coombs 14. Kelton Summers added 6 points and Kace Jones off the bench chipped in 4.