The Bear River boys basketball team got off to a strong start in the 2020-21 season last week, with three wins in as many games.
The Bears hosted the annual Bear River Winter Classic last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Garland, taking down visiting Canyon View, Gunnison Valley and Ben Lomond on consecutive days.
The season tipped off on Thursday, Dec. 3 against Canyon View, which made the trip all the way from Cedar City and gave the hosts all they could handle. After finding themselves down 16-14 at the end of the first quarter, the Bears rode a second-quarter surge to victory as they took a 30-22 advantage into halftime.
Bear River held a nine-point lead after three quarters, which was just enough to hold off a late rally by the Falcons and preserve a 47-44 victory.
Jace Jacobsen and Kace Jones scored 11 points apiece to lead the Bears, while Josh Payne added 10 points and Jarett Giles had four assists to go along with eight points.
Things got a little easier on Friday against Gunnison Valley, as the Bear River offense warmed up en route to a 65-50 win over the bulldogs. Jacobsen and Jones again led the Bears in scoring with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
Completing the trifecta on Saturday, Bear River finished the tournament with a win over former region rival Ben Lomond, 57-43. As he figures to do on a regular basis this season, Jacobsen led the Bears in scoring with 19, while Jones recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The crowds were small and quieter than usual last week, as COVID-19 restrictions mean only family members of players and coaches are allowed to attend. The regular, boisterous student section will have to wait, at least for now, but the absence of the usual atmosphere didn’t seem to affect the team’s performance.
The Bears have some big shoes to fill with the departure of last year’s seniors Ren Fonnesbeck, Mark Huber and Logan Litchford, who guided the Bears to an appearance in the 4A state title game two seasons ago. However, with six seniors in the regular rotation this season, there’s plenty of experience on the court at any given time.
The Bears are scheduled to hit the road this week, with games at Roy on Wednesday and Cottonwood on Friday. The team’s attention will then turn to the annual rivalry game against Box Elder, which the Bears are scheduled to host on Tuesday, Dec. 22.