GARLAND – After building a 21-point halftime lead, Green Canyon was able to hold off Bear River’s comeback and secure the 69-65 win in the final seconds.
The last time the two teams met, Bear River ran away with a 72-60 win in North Logan, but this time it was Green Canyon that won on the road. Senior Dewey Panter had 22 points in the victory that put the Wolves at a 5-2 mark in region.
“I’m just so happy for the guys,” head coach Dan McClure said. “They have battled through some adversity.”
With less than 10 seconds to go, and the game tied at 65-all, Green Canyon’s Carter Berish was fouled as he drove to the hoop. The first free throw went in, but the second missed. A pair of Bear River players went after the rebound, but an extra effort by Panter sent the ball out of bounds off Bear River.
“It was hanging a little bit on the front of the rim,” Panter said. “I saw it come off, waited for it, tipped it, ran after the ball. It ended up going off his knee.”
The ball was inbounded to McKay Yorgason, who was immediately fouled and made one-of-two free throws to go up 67-65. After a Bear River miss on the other end, Panter came up with the rebound, was fouled, then sent to the free throw line.
Despite the loud heckles and boos from the opposing student section, Panter sealed the victory by hitting both shots.
“I try to not think about what they are saying,” Panter said. “I pick a spot on the rim and focus on it and shoot it.”
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McClure called Panter’s performance “huge.”
“Obviously he was so good offensively in the first half for us, hitting shots,” he said. “He gets that tip rebound and secures it here in the corner with seven seconds left. He’s a big time player, and he has consistently made really big plays for us all year. He sealed it for us tonight.”
Green Canyon took an early lead and never lost it. Three early 3-pointers helped the Wolves go up 15-8 lead with 2:57 left in the first quarter, but three-straight turnovers led to six-straight Bear River points and brought the Bears back within one. Panter helped stretch the lead back to seven by hitting two treys in the final minute of the period.
Green Canyon followed its five first-quarter 3-pointers with four more in the second quarter. The Wolves outscored the Bears 20-6 in the period to go into the half 43-22, but McClure said he knew it wasn’t over yet.
“I thought we were incredible in the first half, I thought we played outstanding,” he said, “…but you just had the feeling that they are too good. They are too disciplined to just lay down.”
McClure was correct. Bear River’s Jacob Olsen scored nine points as part of a 12-3 Bear run to open the third quarter. Bear River forced turnovers and continued to trim the deficit as Green Canyon’s Carter Berish took the bench with four fouls with 6:54 remaining in the quarter.
The 21-point halftime lead had been reduced to single digits by the end of the third quarter. Then, with 1:03 left, a pair of Bear free throws tied the game at 65-all, setting up the dramatic finish.
McClure said he is thrilled for the players on his team, who have now won four-straight.
“They were picked last in the region,” he said. “Right now we are going to play for a region lead on Friday against Logan, after that with two games left. This is a pretty resilient group that battles.”