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Girls Basketball ends slam dunk season

The Girls Varsity Basketball Team huddles before a Playoff game against Foothill High School. Photo by Tina Toft

The Bear River Girls Basketball Team had a banner year, making it to Section Playoffs and the Northern California Championships.

“We finished 15-14 overall. 5-5 in League for a 3rd place finish,” explained Varsity Head Coach Randy Billingsley. “We were ranked #7 in our section before Playoffs. We finished in the top 32 in the state in Div 4.”

The team was very proud of their achievements this year. For many of the seniors, this was the best way they could have imagined spending their last year at Bear River.

“It meant the world to me to make it as far as my team and I did,” said Alyssa Pulkinghorn, a senior. “I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my senior season with anyone else. I expected to make it to Playoffs, but I didn’t expect to make it to the third round and then NorCals and it was a great experience.”

Senior Grace Sypnicki shared similar sentiments about the season.

“Coming into the season, I really was not expecting to come close to how well we did this season,” she said. “It really meant a lot to have come this far, especially for this being my last year of playing basketball.”

Ashley Albee, a senior, had started off the season expecting great things.

“Coming into this year I definitely had high expectations, especially ever since our first tournament where we went undefeated and won the whole tourney,” said Albee. “Since that moment, I was completely optimistic on how far our team could have gone this season.”

Coach Billingsley discussed the team’s Playoff journey.

“For the Playoffs, we received a first round home game in which we dominated a very good Venture Academy team from Stockton, 80-57,” he said. “In the second round we had our best win of the season against #2 ranked powerhouse, Calaveras High School, 60-50. We had 5 three-pointers in the 4th quarter to seal the deal. It surprised me how composed we were on the road in a difficult environment.”

Although the girls secured a spot in the NorCal tournament with their win at Calaveras, their next Playoff game was a loss against PVL rival Foothill High School, and they were taken out of the running for Section title.

“We played a very tough known opponent in the Section semifinals in Foothill HS from the PVL,” said Coach Billingsley. “We played them to a three-point game through nearly three quarters but ran out of gas in the end.”

“I’m very proud of our girls after a long challenging season,” he said. “They should be very excited that they were one of the top four teams in our section at the end of the season.”

Albee was extremely pleased with the accomplishments of this year.

“Making it to Playoffs alone was a happy relief because last year we failed to make the cut for Playoffs for the first time in years,” she said. “Making NorCals was an absolutely amazing honor and I’m super happy that I had that opportunity to experience that for my last year year of playing ball here.”

The team unanimously credits their success of this season to the new coaching staff.

“I think that our coaches made a big impact on how successful we were this season,” said Sypnicki. “Coach Randy and Coach Emily really believed in us, which helped to push our team to its potential.”

The girls also felt a strong sense of camaraderie among the team, in addition to having skill and exceptional support from coaches. Sypnicki perfectly summed up how this family spirit benefits the team.

“We were all so supportive of each other, which translated into us being able to play well together on the court,” she said.

“What stood out to me was how my team wasn’t just my team, they were and will always be my second family and being that close really helped us work better together on the court,” Pulkinghorn said. “Also, having a new coach really brought a new energy and I think everyone benefited from it.”

“I think what made us stand out this year was not just that we had amazing point guards and stellar post players, and an awesome coaching staff, but we really came together as a family this year above all else and played together like sisters, which really does make all the difference in the end,” said Albee. “I couldn’t be more honored to have been a part of such an amazing group of girls.”

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Girls Basketball ends slam dunk season