The Bear River girls basketball team certainly had their work cut out for them last week, as they played back-to-back games against the top two teams in their region.

The Bears lost both games, but their coach is encouraged by the improvement he is seeing in his squad.

Hosting Ridgeline on Tuesday, Jan. 29, the Bears found themselves down early, but fought back hard in the second half before narrowly losing to the Riverhawks, 56-49.

Bear River trailed 14-8 after the first quarter and 31-20 at halftime, but found new life after the break and outscored Ridgeline 14-9 in the third quarter.

“That was one of the best games we’ve played all year,” Bear River Head Coach Mike Corbridge said. “We figured out that we could play with them after the first quarter, but it was tough to overcome that lead. We started fouling them late in the game and they knocked down their free throws. We just couldn’t get over that hump in the end.”

The scoring was balanced for the Bears, led by Cailee Sidwell’s 16 and Olivia Taylor’s 10. McKenzie Bywater added eight points and in all, seven Bears found their way into the scoring column.

Corbridge was encouraged by the Bears’ effort against the top team in Region 12. Ridgeline had won seven straight heading into the game and remains undefeated in region play.

“They finally played with some confidence, shot the ball with confidence,” he said. “They looked at themselves and saw themselves as scorers. They were going to the basket with a purpose, and that put a lot more pressure on Ridgeline than we’ve been putting on opponents.”

After the close loss at home to Ridgeline, the Bears took to the road to face Green Canyon on Thursday, Jan. 31. The game followed a similar pattern in the first three quarters, with the Wolves jumping out to an early lead and going ahead 38-23 at halftime.

Again, Bear River came out of halftime with energy and won the third quarter 12-9, but the Bears faded in the fourth as Green Canyon stretched its lead and ended up winning 70-44.

The final margin was wide, but once again, Corbridge said he was pleased with the Bears’ effort.

“It was a lot closer game than what the score showed,” he said. “We were within eight in the fourth quarter, and then they (Green Canyon) hit three 3’s in 30 seconds, and suddenly it seems like an impossible thing to overcome. But we beat them on turnovers, rebounds and points in the paint.”

Green Canyon won by shooting lights out from downtown. The Wolves hit 11 three-pointers, seven of those by Kinley Falslev, who led all scorers in the game with 23 points.

“They were all pretty contested threes, and also very deep threes,” Corbridge said. “We were going to live and die by those shots, and to their credit, they made them. But I felt we played very well. The girls had a lot of confidence.”

The Bears had three players in double figures. Bywater led the team with 14, while Taylor and Abbie Fuhriman each scored 12 points, but they received little assistance from their teammates in terms of scoring as those three accounted all but six of the team’s total.

Following last week’s losses, the Bears sit at 3-10 overall. Their 1-5 record in Region 12 has them in fifth place, one ahead of Mountain Crest, which has yet to find a victory in region play.

This week, the Bears traveled to Sky View on Tuesday, Feb. 5. They return home to host Mountain Crest on Thursday, Feb. 7.