ST. GEORGE - Baby steps.
This wasn't Bear River's year to reach the pinnacle of girls' basketball, but their first state 3-A tournament in nine years has given them valuable experience for future teams.
The Bears couldn't climb out of an early hole on Friday morning and dropped a 47-36 decision to Region 10 champion Juan Diego, knocking them out of the consolation bracket and sending them home with two straight losses. But Bears' coach Van Park will never call this season a disappointment.
"I'm just really proud of the girls," Park said. "I told them that this tournament doesn't make our season. We had a great season and these seniors worked so hard every practice and every game. I don't know that I've ever had a year where every practice we didn't have any drama or contention. They just worked hard and loved playing for each other. That's the reason that I'm sad and they're sad. It's going to be lonely on Monday morning."
The Bears lose five important seniors from this year's team, but the future is bright with returning players Jordan Theurer, Sarah Huber, Paige Roholt and Alyssa Park.
"This (tournament) gives them good experience and hopefully it gives them the excitement to want to work harder in the offseason," Park said. "It's not only a fun experience for them, but when they saw the crowd yesterday, it was kind of deer in the headlights. But I really think it will bode well for us next year."
In the Bears' final game, an early deficit to Juan Diego proved to be too much to overcome. They fell behind by seven after one quarter and although the Bears played the Soaring Eagle tough for the last three quarters, they could never recover from the slow start.
Theurer led Bear River with 12 points, while Huber added 10, including a 3-pointer.