Whenever the Lady Stallions and Lady Bears get together, the games are always close. Tuesday’s matchup was no different.
The Stansbury Lady Stallions held off a fourth-quarter surge by the Bear River Lady Bears to win 47-45 and move to 3-0 in region play — one win closer to a perfect stretch through the first round robin of the Region 11 schedule.
Stansbury entered the fourth quarter ahead 43-28, and then Bailey Wilson delivered two free throws and a steal and layup to put Stansbury up 47-28. Then the Bears came roaring back.
“Every year Bear River is a fourth quarter team,” said SHS head coach Kenzie Newton. “We knew it was coming. Luckily we had such a great third quarter. We got them rattled. That was great that we could have that lead going into that fourth quarter. They’re a tough team and a fourth-quarter team for sure.”
Bear River held Stansbury scoreless for the remainder of the fourth quarter after the four points scored to start by Wilson. After scoring 17 straight points to cut the lead to two, it came down to one final offensive possession for the Bears to either win the game or send it to overtime.
The Lady Stallions forced the Bears into two desperation shots that weren’t made, and the Bears had one more shot attempt after two offensive rebounds. The shot went up, but Shyan Adams blocked it away. The clock expired and Stansbury got the win.
Wilson led the team in scoring with 12 points on the night, followed by Rachel Prescott with 11, Madie Alvey, Erika Lakin and Kallie Stewart all with six, Adams three, Amber Spaulding two, and Katy Flint with a made free throw. Stansbury also had its aggressive defense play big when it needed it.
“Prescott did a great job on [Bear River guard Alyssa Park],” Newton said. “[Park] averages I think 17 (points) a game. Amber (Spaulding) came in and did a great job when Prescott needed that breather. Defensively, we made a good stand. Offensively, some questionable things happened, but we got the win.”
Newton said she and the Stansbury players knew how important it was to beat Bear River, especially since the two teams are racing for first place. But it was also important because the Lady Bears have outmatched Stansbury in all four meetings the last two years. Three of those four meetings were decided by six points or less.
“These girls, since they’ve been freshmen, said, ‘We’ve got to beat Bear River,’” Newton said. “I think they just really wanted it. I think that game came down to who wanted it more and who was going to do a few more of those little things like diving after a loose ball, and we ended up with the victory. I’m really proud of them.”
Despite Stansbury building a large lead in the third quarter followed by Bear River’s comeback in the fourth quarter, the two teams played neck-and-neck through the first half. Stansbury jumped ahead 7-0 thanks to a couple of steals by Lakin.
She grabbed her first steal with the score at 2-0 and found Alvey for a layup and foul. Alvey hit the free throw. Lakin then hit two free throws for herself after grabbing her second steal to put Stansbury ahead 7-0. Bear River answered that run with its own run to even the score at 8-8. Stansbury ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run for a 14-8 lead going into the second quarter.
The two teams battled closely in the second with Bear River outscoring Stansbury 11-6. The Lady Stallions passed the ball around for a while on one possession, looking for an opening in Bear River’s defense. The Stallions nearly turned the ball over on a missed pass that went toward a backcourt violation, but Prescott saved it with a desperation throw back over to Alvey, who drove toward the hoop and was fouled. She hit one free throw to give the Stallions a 20-19 lead at halftime.
Even with the close score, Bear River never led in the game. The closest it came was in tying the score four different times. It tied the game at 20-20 to start the third quarter, but Alvey followed that with a drive past the Bear River defense. She passed over to Prescott on the baseline, and Prescott knocked down a jump shot to give Stansbury the lead at 22-20. Stansbury held the lead for the remainder of the game. That jump shot was also the beginning of a 14-2 run that made the score 34-22 before Stansbury pushed the lead to 43-28 going into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Stallions next play on Tuesday against Grantsville. This matchup pits coaches Newton and Megan Vera against each other. Vera played for Newton at Grantsville.
“I’m glad to see one of the girls I coached taking over,” Newton said. “Hopefully she can build that program back up.”