Lincoln beats Bear River to record 11th straight victory

By: Joshua Gutierrez / Special to the Journal
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LINCOLN — On opening night of Pioneer Valley League competition, the Bear River varsity basketball team was unable to halt the streaking Lincoln Fighting Zebras, suffering a 51-44 road loss.

The loss snaps a three-game winning streak for the Bruins and propels the up-and-coming Zebras to an 11-game win streak.

As the night got under way, Bear River seemed to control the tempo of the game, shooting 8-for-13 from the floor. The 6-foot-8 Nick Bachus made the most of his height advantage, collecting six points on a 3 of 3 performance.

Michael Raigoza controlled the offense, collecting three assists and scoring three points to open the night.

But as the second period began, Lincoln adjusted its defensive pressure en route to a 13-6 run going into the locker room. The Bruins seemed out of sorts, turning the ball over in seven of their first 10 possessions.

With only six attempts in the period, Bear River faced a seven-point deficit as Lincoln’s Marcus Salgado iced a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Coming out of the locker room, Lincoln kept the momentum on their side scoring 17 points in the quarter and limiting the Bruins to six.

Bear River addressed its turnover difficulties, but struggled from beyond the arc, going 0-for-4 in the period. The Bruins would ultimately finish with no shots made from 3-point range (0-for-6).

Lincoln grabbed its biggest lead of the night in the final period after the Zebras’ Alexis Gonzales scored on their opening possession.

Bachus started the Bruins’ comeback attempt on a field goal, his first points since the opening period.

Tyler Hajewski, Justin Beskeen, and Raigoza each drained a field goal apiece in an 8-0 run that cut the Zebras’ lead to nine with less than four minutes to play.

After three-consecutive missed shots by Beskeen, Travis Anderson found the basket on a Hajewski assist.

Two field goals by Raigoza further cut Lincoln’s lead to six points with less than 90 seconds on the clock.

But turnovers came back to play a role, as Lincoln assumed control on two critical turnovers, and killed the clock.

“We definitely did not play up to our expectations,” said Beskeen, who led the Bruins with 10 points. “We definitely need to step up and play better.”

Bear River head coach Duwaine Ganskie spoke in a post-game interview, crediting Lincoln’s zone offense and physicality on the defensive end. Though expectations fell short, the coach pressed the issue of perseverance in the PVL.

“You got to bounce back,” Ganskie said. “You can’t let one loss discourage you in this league.”