Bear Lake bounced by Buckley 82-36 in district semifinals

Bear Lake senior Kaiden Hejl (10) splits two Buckley defenders during the Lakers’ 82-36 loss to the Bears in their Class D district semifinal game Wednesday. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

Bear Lake senior Kaiden Hejl (10) splits two Buckley defenders during the Lakers’ 82-36 loss to the Bears in their Class D district semifinal game Wednesday. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

By ROBERT MYERS

Pioneer Sports Network

BUCKLEY – Bear Lake boys basketball entered Wednesday’s district semifinal hungry for an upset, but Buckley’s physicality caught them off guard early, ending the Lakers’ season in an 82-36 defeat.

The Bears began the game on a 10-0 run, fueled by in-your-face physicality on defense and Austin Harris, who scored eight of the first 10 points and finished with 27 for the game. At the end of the first quarter, Buckley led 22-2, which is exactly how coach Blair Moss wanted his team to start the postseason.

“Austin set the tone, and everyone else just fed off of it,” Moss said. “I told them last Friday: ‘Let’s get back to team ball. Everybody is 0-0. I don’t care about the records or the stats. Let’s just go play. Let’s just win.’”

As Bear Lake began to adjust to the style of play, in which the referees allowed significant contact without whistling for fouls, they began to get the offense rolling, with Kaiden Hejl scoring the team’s first field goal two minutes into the second quarter. Even so, at the half, they found themselves trailing 49-13.

It was not until the third quarter, that Bear Lake coach Garret Waller saw his team finally start matching the physical style of play that the Bears had been getting away with all game.

“We don’t play like that, and we can’t in our conference. Once we started matching their physicality and realizing what we can and can’t get away with, I thought we played a better second half,” Waller said. “This is a good team. I thought we would have had to play a fantastic game to beat them. They weren’t state runner-up for nothing.”

With the Lakers new physicality, they matched Bear Lake point for point in the third quarter, delaying what appeared to be an imminent running clock until midway through the fourth quarter.

“I told them, I am extremely proud of them,” Waller said. “There are a lot of teams that would have just given up, and it would have been game over at halftime, but our boys have been like this all year. They are gritty, and they care. I was proud of the way they played in the second half.”

Hejl led the Lakers with 17 points in the game. Trey Gillbert added 10 points, and Reagan Merrill finished with four points.

The Lakers finish their season 18-4. Next year, Waller said they will look to build on their conference championship by finding success in their district.

Leave a Reply