Colfax defense bottles up Bear River in consolation game

By: Ray Hacke, Journal Sports Writer
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Generally, when a basketball team focuses on shutting down its opponent’s top scorers, it creates scoring opportunities for the opponent’s other players. Colfax High’s boys squad succeeded in limiting Bear River’s top scorers Tuesday in the teams’ Kendall Arnett Tournament consolation game at Placer’s Earl Crabbe Gymnasium. In the process, however, the Falcons generated scoring opportunities for themselves in posting a 57-49 victory. At no point was that more true than in the fourth quarter. Colfax (7-5) led by six points at the start of the quarter but held its Pioneer Valley League rival to just one field goal in the period’s first 4:54 to widen its lead to 15 points at 52-37. “Our defense triggered our offense,” Falcons coach Ron Pucci said. “We got some baskets off of steals, which helped.” Bear River (9-4) did get back within six points when senior guard Garrett Barbic converted a 3-point play with 26.9 seconds remaining, but could get no closer. Junior forward Joey Jergo led Colfax with 17 points, including 7-for-8 shooting from the foul line, and 12 rebounds. Senior center Ethan Guiles finished with 16 points, and junior forward Justin Witt scored 11 points and was also a defensive leader for the Falcons with five steals. The Bruins’ top scorers, senior guard Patrick Scott and Barbic, finished with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Scott came into the Kendall Arnett Tournament averaging more than 27 points a game, while Barbic came in averaging more than 16 points per contest. “Our goal was to keep them below their averages, and we succeeded at that,” Pucci said. Pucci credited Witt with putting the clamps on Barbic and senior guard Jeff Divine with containing Scott, who finished with seven turnovers and made was 5-for-19 from the field. Colfax led 12-2 after the first quarter, with junior guard Johnny Jewett scoring Bear River’s only points of the period. After Jewett’s bucket, the Bruins didn’t make another field goal until junior guard Michael Spencer buried a long jumper with 5:25 to go in the first half. “All I can say is that we came out extremely lethargic and Colfax did a good job of defending us,” Bruins coach Duwaine Ganskie said. Thanks to solid free-throw shooting in the second quarter, Bear River closed the gap on Colfax before the end of the first half. The Bruins went 9-for-10 from the foul line in a span of just over three minutes and cut the Falcons’ lead to 22-20 when Spencer swished a 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining in the half. Witt put in an offensive rebound for Colfax with 45.8 seconds left before the intermission to widen the Falcons’ lead back to four points. Bear River had a chance to either tie Colfax or take the lead when it went to the foul line three times in the half’s final 30 seconds, but the Bruins missed three of their six foul shots and trailed 24-23 at the half. Colfax opened the second half with a 7-2 run, and though one of Barbic’s two 3-pointers brought Bear River back within one at 31-30, the Bruins never managed to overtake the Falcons. Colfax held Bear River to just one field goal in the final 4:40 of the third quarter to put some distance between itself and the Bruins. “We just struggled all night to get into a rhythm,” Ganskie said.