Star Valley led by as many as nine points in the first half but Bear Lake continued to get baskets in the paint and a few from long range as the traditional December border war came down to the final three shots.
The Bears tied the game with a drive to the hoop 52-52. The Braves opted not to use a timeout as they brought the ball the length of the floor. Chase Critchfield got the ball to Kyler Battleson who drove with his left hand and kissed it off the glass for a bucket to put Star Valley up 54-52. After a timeout, Bear Lake got the shot they wanted as they went for the win from three-point range but the shot caromed off the rim and the Braves survived to move to 5-0 on the season.
“Our kids were really tight,” said head coach Aaron Lancaster. “They were nervous playing in front of their home crowd. It reminded me of playing Green River last year; just not very loose. We got up by nine and just did some dumb things. We tried to push the ball and gambled a bit too much but at the end of the game they pushed hard and got a win.”
Jacob Pierson led the team with 14 points and eight rebounds. Chase Erickson scored 12 and Chase Critchfield netted 11 which included a trio of three-point buckets. Battleson finished with nine points and four assists.
Up next will be another rivalry game as the Braves host the Evanston Red Devils on Saturday, January 2. The junior varsity is slated to begin at 2 p.m. with the varsity girls tipping off at 3:30 p.m. The varsity boys game will start at approximately 5 p.m.
After several seasons under Roy Barker, the Red Devils are now being coached by Joe Floyd who spent the previous two seasons as Evanston’s sophomore team coach. Lancaster doesn’t expect to see much of a change to the Evanston philosophy.
“They were running a lot of the same stuff as they did last year,” he said of the Devils who played at the Flaming Gorge Classic as well. “Hardnosed on defense; should be another tough game for us.”
After hosting Evanston the Braves will then host Rawlins on January 9, a team that has been contending in the Eastern conference for the past several years.
“I think the point of non-conference play is to play the toughest teams you can,” Lancaster concluded. “Evanston lost some games they should have won. They will be pumped up for us. Any time you play a 4A school it’s a different level of competition.
• Coverage The game will be carried on KRSV 98.7 FM/1210 AM on traditional radio as well as streaming radio through the SVI Radio App (Black Mountain Country). Video streaming will also be available at livestream.com/svi.
(Photo provided by Aaron C. Jenkins Photography)
• Tale of the Tape (Stats provided by Wyopreps.com)
Record: Evanston (2-4) @ Star Valley (5-0)
Offense: Evanston 49.2 ppg Star Valley 57.3 ppg
Defense: Evanston 52.5 ppg Star Valley 50.5 ppg
Scoring: Evanston-Ehlers 18.0 ppg, Star Valley-Pierson 18.8 ppg
• Recapping the Rivalry (Evanston)*
Series History: S.V. leads 87-63
In Afton: S.V. leads 42-17
Last Meeting: Braves won 43-40 in Evanston (Jan. 2015)
Last Ten Meetings: Series is tied 5-5
State Title Games: Never Met
Game Notes: Star Valley has won three of the last four meetings overall but Evanston has won three of the last four in Afton.
(* Series History since the 1951-52 school year)