THOMAS — It was an odd night at Snake River High School on Thursday evening as the highly anticipated match up between the Bear Lake Bears and the Snake River Panthers unfolded upon the hardwood.
After a late start, due to a freshman overtime tussle, the Bears raced out to a 10-2 lead and never looked back, stealing the road win over the Panthers with a 49-40 victory.
"First half we forced up some shots but Bear Lake did a good job of showing patience on their offensive end, making us work on defense and for us giving up three three's right off the bat made us play catch up from that point on," Snake River head coach Bob Coombs said. "This is fifth district basketball, which is very physical, and we got pushed and knocked around and right off the bat dug ourselves a hole."
The Panthers, who have blistered the nets all season long from the field, were uncharacteristically cold from the floor on Thursday, shooting just 1 of 11 from behind the arc and a paltry 5 of 13 from the charity stripe.
"You got to give Bear Lake credit on a lot of our shots they had a kid closing out with a hand right in our face," coach Coombs said. "We will shoot the ball a little better than we did tonight though because we have a good shooting team."
Bear lake eventually pushed their lead out to 16-points midway through the third quarter before Snake River awakened, somewhat, by pounding the ball inside in an attempt at the come from behind victory.
Candon Watt got active inside, posting his man down low, converting on several little turn around jumpers as the Panthers eventually cut the deficit too just 7-points with a little over a minute to play.
"We have to become more physical, mature a little bit and get the ball inside," coach Coombs said. "We had guys open inside and we actually made our little run by going inside. Bear Lake controlled the key and we didn't tonight though and in these big games the team that controls the key normally will get the win."
The comeback stalled however as Bear Lake made their free throws down the stretch, taking command of the fifth district race for the top seed.
"Bear Lake is a good ball team, we knew that they would be," coach Coombs said. "We're only half way through the season and now we know what we have to keep working on."
Snake River (9-2, 2-1) return to action Saturday evening when they host South Fremont at 7:30 P.M.
BLHS 13 9 17 10 - 49
SRHS 9 6 10 15 - 40
Bear Lake (49) - Porter Wallentine 12, Jordan Bills 5, Trent Michel 10, Clayton Harris 7, Derrick Gundersen 8, Brent Alleman 4, Brady Pitchford 2 rebounds (23) Wallentine 7 assists (9) Bills 4 FT - 5/7 3pt - 4/9 (Michel 2, Wallentine, Harris) fouls - 18 fouled out - none
Snake River (40) - Jacoby Johnson 11, Keegan Keller 2, Cole Rushton 2, Candon Watt 13, C.J. Toulouse 6, Derik Williams 2, Martin Hrabik 4 rebounds (24) Johnson 7 assists (5) Keller 2 FT - 5/13 3pt - 1/11 (Johnson) fouls - 12 fouled out - none