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A close game on Feb. 25 between Pierce Bears and the Gridley Bulldogs made for an intense white-knuckler that ended 54-51 with the Bears continuing to the final round in the CIF Northern Section Boys Basketball Playoffs.
The first half of the game was a constant battle between the two evenly-matched teams. By the third quarter, the Bulldogs had the upper hand, but the Bears adapted and overcame, pulling the score out of the deficit and into a last minute win, literally, when Luke Voorhees sank two free throws and pushed up the Bears’ score above the Bulldogs’.
For good measure, a 2-pointer and another successful free throw in the ensuing seconds secured the Bears’ win.
“It’s kind of stressful, but at the same time, it’s kind of fun,” said Justin Mathews, a junior. “You live for these moments, for close games.”
Pierce’s coach Cody McCullough said the strategy of targeting and containing Gridley’s top three dogs took them out of their comfort zones, and was what turned the tide.
Senior Daniel Medina and juniors Eduardo Paiz, Mathews, Alex High, and Voorhees are all returning players from last year. They have experience playing as a team and experience in the playoffs when the boys made it to Round 2 of the Regional Championship.
“The whole time, to be honest, we’ve known it’s us and University Prep that should be the two top dogs this entire season. So we’ve been talking about it; we’ve been ready for it. And this is what we came to do. It was to get to this game and beat that team.”
At Shasta College on Saturday, the University Prep Panthers from Redding defeated the Bears 52-44. The Bears got another chance in the CIF State Championship with a home game against the Durham Trojans on Tuesday. Results not available at time of press. ■