OGDEN — Bear River ought to think about changing its official color to purple, because its boys basketball team looks right at home in the Purple Palace.
In what many figured would be a competitive 3A semifinal at the Dee Events Center on Friday night, Bear River absolutely demolished No. 2 Snow Canyon 83-55 to advance to Saturday’s championship game.
It’s Bear River’s first trip to the 3A title game since winning it all in 2009.
“Our boys played phenomenal,” said Bear River coach Kasey Winters.
Indeed they did. The Bears defended well, shot a blistering 53 percent from the field, and rebounded exceptionally well against a taller Snow Canyon team.
Basically, they didn’t resemble a No. 3 seed whatsoever.
“We just kind of hit the right spark at the right time. We didn’t like that we went in in third place. We kind of just came together after that Ogden loss and just started to really play ball well,” said Bear River’s Wade Miller, who led all scorers with 25 points.
It was anything but a one-man show though, as 11 different players scored for Bear River, with Garrett Fronk and Nick Hillis each chipping in with 11.
“When we share the ball like that we’re tough to stop. Our boys are playing with a lot of confidence right now. That’s the best we’ve seen them play,” said Winters.
As expected, Friday's game was tight early, but it didn’t last. With Bear River leading 16-15 late in the first quarter, it started to roll and ended the half on a 25-10 run to build a 41-25 advantage.
The Bears knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half, finishing the game with nine.
Bear River didn’t let up in the third quarter either. With the Warriors forced to play up tempo because they were down big, the Bears decided to run right with them. Leading 48-31 with 3:20 remaining in the third, Bear River's advantage quickly ballooned out of control as the Bears scored on seven straight possessions to increase their lead to 61-38 by the end of the quarter.
“We knew 15 points wasn’t enough. We’ve seen leads dwindle before. We talked about going out and trying to put the pedal to the metal,” said Winters.
Bear River enjoyed its largest lead of the game at 73-43 with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I think rebounding was the key and pushing the ball up the floor. I don’t think they’ve ever seen a team push like that,” said Miller.1 comment on this story
The 83 points weren't even a season high for Bear River, which scored 90 in a win earlier this year.
For Snow Canyon, the loss was another frustrating ouster for a Southern Utah school up North.
Since Pine View won the 3A state title at Weber State back in 2001, no Southern Utah school has advanced past the semifinals in the eight years the tournament has been contested in Northern Utah.
Chandler Gines led Snow Canyon with 17 points in the loss, but his team could never get on track after falling behind early. It shot just 31 percent from the field.