OGDEN -- After Bear River's win over Judge Memorial in the 3-A quarterfinals on Thursday, leading scorer Wade "Bubba" Miller said he felt his team was peaking at just the right time. It's hard to imagine the Bears peaking any more than they did Friday night in the 3-A semifinals.
An early 3-point barrage led by Miller gave the Bears a big first half lead and propelled them to a very impressive 83-55 win over favored Snow Canyon and a date in Saturday's championship game at the Dee Events Center.
And perhaps to the surprise of most, the Bears didn't need a huge scoring night from Miller to blow the Warriors out. Sure, he got 25 to lead all scorers, but Bear River got significant contributions from Garrett Fronk, Nick Hillis, Kody King, Stetson Summers, Nick Zundel, Lane Bitner, Austin Miller and Jared Black. To put it bluntly, the Warriors were annihilated by a complete Bear River team effort.
"Our boys played phenomenally," Bears coach Kasey Winters said. "We're tough to stop and our boys are playing with a lot of confidence right now. That's the best we've seen them play. Wade got his but everyone else got involved too, whether it was on the offensive glass or a penetrate and kick or pick and rolls or whatever. It just makes it easier on Wade when other guys are scoring the ball."
When Miller's 3-pointer gave the Bears a 14-11 lead, they never looked back. They turned a 21-16 first quarter lead into a 15-point halftime advantage and a 23-point lead after three. And it only got worse from there, leading by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.
"I wasn't expecting that at all," said Bear River junior Nick Hillis, who had 11 points. "I was expecting a win, but our team worked so well together today and that's what won that game. We shared the ball and no one was selfish."
Bear River (18-7) will be making its first appearance in the championship game since a 2009 state title win over Logan. The Bears also took home the top trophy in 2000. Both the 2000 and 2009 teams were coached by Van Park, now Bear River's girls coach.
"This means everything," Hillis said. "These seniors have been a team since they were something like eight years old, and then I joined them when I was a freshman. So we've been waiting for this for a long time. If we come out and play like we did today, we'll win."
Fronk, who also had 11 points, exited the game early in the third quarter after taking a shot to the face. He was woozy as he was helped from the floor, but should be ready for Saturday night's championship, which begins tonight at 7:30 in the Dee Events Center.