OGDEN - Putting a number of close region losses behind them, the Bear River Bears pulled out a narrow win over Judge Memorial on Thursday to advance to the 3-A state semifinals against Snow Canyon.
The Bears twice lost by one point to Morgan. In January, they lost to Ben Lomond in double overtime and two days later fell to Ogden in triple overtime. But against Judge, the Bears broke a late 59-59 tie and then held off the Bulldogs down the stretch.
"We've been through our downfalls in region," Bear River star Wade 'Bubba' Miller said. "But we hit a peak right when we needed to. We had a great game last week against Payson and I think that just carried over."
Miller's 3 with 1:27 to play put Bear River ahead for good. Stetson Summers and Kyle Zundel each added a pair of free throws in the waning seconds.
"A big part of it was not getting caught up in the hype," Miller said. "We haven't played in an arena this big. With all the emotions going on it was good to just calm down, and there at the end it showed that we deserved to be here."
Miller scored a game-high 29 points, including 20 in the first half, but got a lot of help from his teammates in the second half. Kody King scored 12 points, Austin Miller added eight, including two big 3-pointers in the third period, and Summers finished with six - all coming in the final three minutes of the game.
"The only reason I get open is because they're hitting shots," Wade Miller said. "Our big guys down there set a ton of good picks, so I give it all to them. They're the ones doing the dirty work."
"That's the way it's been all season," Bear River coach Kasey Winters said. "Bubba's gonna get his, and he should because he's a great player. But we had Austin Miller hit some crucial 3s, Stetson Summers got two offensive rebounds for putbacks and Kyle Zundel knocked down some crucial free throws. The other boys have done a good job of kind of turning the reins over to Bubba and allowing him to make them good players. It was a total team effort today."
Wade Miller entered the game with a reputation as a shooter and he didn't disappoint. He put his team on his back early with 15 first-quarter points.
Tanner Riley led Judge Memorial with 15 points and four assists. Joe Cremer chipped in with 13, while Terrell Young and Kaden Elliss added a dozen apiece.he Bears now face Snow Canyon - 67-66 winners over Ben Lomond - on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Dee Events Center. The winner will advance to Saturday's state championship game.
"(Snow Canyon) has that big guy (6-foot-7 Nathan Gottfredson) and they've got great shooters," Wade Miller said. "It's basically just going to come down to who wants it more. There's going to be no blowouts here. It's going to be a dogfight."