Pierce advanced in the playoffs Feb. 26, winning against Hoopa Valley 79-75.
Both teams were evenly matched throughout the season making it anyone’s game. The Pierce Bears’ overall standings were 22-6 averaging 60.3 points per game. The Hoopa Warriors won 21-9 with an average of 64.5 points per game.
Tensions were high from the opening tip. Immediately after Pierce’s Luke Voorhees caught the advantage from the tipoff a foul was called. Initially, the Warriors were very efficient from the free throw line, sinking a majority of the foul shots.
The first quarter ended with the Hoopa Warriors in the lead. This was the trend for the second and third quarters. Both teams would have impressive plays and make a significant number of baskets.
Pierce’s Justin Matthews led 3-point scoring, sinking three of his four 3-point attempts, and Jonathan Corchado contributed to the win with a majority of his scores from around the rim.
The Warriors would keep themselves on top until the fourth quarter when Pierce reached down deep and came from behind to win.
With just two minutes on the clock, the tail end of the game was highly contested. Emotions ran high with the end of the season drawing near. Hoopa ratcheted up their effort but it wasn’t enough to stave off the Bears.
In the final quarter, Pierce Bears learned from past games to be more selective with their shots and controlling the pace of the game, Coach Scott Burnum said.
“The kids played hard,” Burnum said. “They did play hard the whole time and they didn’t stop. That’s been a deficiency of ours throughout the year. Things don’t go well, we quit playing hard. Tonight we’ve kept playing hard the whole time. (They) played together as a team.
Burnum said there were a couple of mistakes here and there, but in a couple of key situations where they called the play, the players read the play right.
“We let things come to us; we didn’t try to make things happen,” Burnum added.
The boys basketball teams had a lot riding on this game. The winning team would be awarded the chance to move forward in the CIF State Boys Basketball Championship. Although both teams wanted it, in the end, Pierce moved forward in the playoffs.
Immediately after the game, authorities and first responders were called out to diffuse the high passions that were brought out by an intense game.
The Pierce Bears ended their season on Thursday against the Mt. Shasta Bears, losing 69-55. ■
(Photo Credit: Mary Grimmer)