The Snow Canyon boys basketball team entered Friday night’s semifinal matchup against Bear River brimming with confidence.
The Warriors finished atop the difficult Region 9 group and recently survived a thriller vs. Ben Lomond in the 3A quarterfinals.
None of that mattered to Bear River.
Like an older brother angling to teach his younger sibling a lesson in humility, the Bears struck hard during the 3A state semifinals, eliminating the Warriors 83-55.
Chandler Gines, Snow Canyon’s go-to star, was stilted amongst triple teams and bruising defenders. He put up his usual – 17 points, 7 rebounds – but didn’t have the impact Warriors fans have grown accustomed to.
As a result, Snow Canyon will have to settle for a third-place bout against Wasatch today at 3 p.m., at Weber State’s Dee Events Center while the Bears will vie for the 3A state championship against Morgan at 7:30 p.m.
“Rebounding was key,” said Bear River sharpshooter Wade Miller, who put up a game-high 25 points and was lights out from downtown with four 3-pointers. “We just pushed them. I don’t think they’ve ever been pushed that hard.”
Amidst a raucous sea of Warriors and Bears fans alike, Snow Canyon took the first swing, nailing back-to-back 3-pointers to start the contest on a 6-0 run. Jacob Frei’s jump shot at the six-minute mark gave the Warriors an 8-2 lead. Things were looking up.
Bear River shrugged off the attack and countered with five treys – two from Garrett Fronk (11 points), three from Miller.
By the time the quarter ended, the Bears held a 21-16 lead.
Snow Canyon was stunned. Nate Gottfredson was forced to sit out most of the half due to foul trouble. Gines was struggling.
Bear River was just better.
“We watched them against Ben Lomond and knew we had to play our butts off,” said Nick Hillis, who scored 11 points for the Bears. “We got everyone involved on both sides of the floor early and didn’t stop.”
Warriors coach James Brown admitted the physical tone favored their northern opponents.
“They played us tough and we didn’t adjust,” he lamented. “They were quicker and they got hot in that first quarter … We just didn’t adjust.”
The Bears shot a stifling 52.6 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line.
Contrast that with Snow Canyon’s 31-percent shooting — 30 percent from beyond the arc, typically the team’s bread and butter — and the reason for the loss immediately becomes apparent.
One sequence in the fourth quarter typified the evening for Snow Canyon. Trailing by 26 after getting defensive stop, the Warriors pushed the ball up the court but had a pass intercepted by Miller who drove, collected the foul and the layup for a three-point play.
Afterward, Brown remained positive, but noted he had a tough task in trying to get his team ready for a consolation game.
“It’s a hard thing to do,” he said. “The kids are down emotionally and physically. It’s a pride game. It’s now about representing the name on your jersey and playing for your school.”
SPANISH FORK 63, CEDAR 58: Cedar battled back from a 19-7 first quarter deficit and at least made a game of it against Spanish Fork.
Looking nothing like the team that started the season on such a high note, the Reds trailed throughout the contest, and only came alive in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
Dason Coronado’s back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute of the game kept things interesting, but the Dons converted their free throws down the stretch and held on for the victory.
Dustin Staggs collected a double-double with 26 points — a game high — and 11 rebounds, Mike Hourigan scored 14 and Coronado put up 13 points for the Reds.
Spanish Fork came out with a vengeance and had four players score in double figures. Taylor Parker led the way with 19 points while also pulling down 15 rebounds.