High school boys basketball: Star power helps Weber surge past Bear River

PLEASANT VIEW — During a holiday week when many teams in the state were wrapped up in various tournaments, one battle of heavyweights went on in the relatively quiet confines of Weber High School’s gym.

In a matchup between two top one-loss teams, the home Weber Warriors simply had too much talent for the visiting Bear River Bears to handle, and the Warriors ran away in the second half for a 71-56 win on Wednesday afternoon.

The win moved Weber to 9-1, easily the best start of coach Landon Cosby’s tenure after it finished with a losing record the last two seasons.

“Our team is tough. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder,” Cosby said. “We lost a lot of close games last year. We’ve been focused on staying together and being tough. They celebrate for each other and they’re happy to see other members of the team have success.”

While Warriors senior guard Hunter Schenck had a typically explosive night, leading all scorers with 25 points, sophomore guard Jordan Oberholtzer really shone through with a career-high 17 points, generating a great deal of offense on self-initiated fast breaks.

Combined with 11 points from senior forward Malachi Spencer, the Weber trio combined for 51 points, nearly outscoring the Bears themselves.

The Bears were led by senior guard Kyver Jensen with 15 points, while senior Brayden Ritter added another 13.

Weber’s defense around the perimeter was optimized by the impact of the lanky 6-foot-7 Spencer around the hoop. With him needing little help around the basket defensively, the rest of the Warriors could comfortably and confidently patrol the 3-point line.

While the Bears aren’t particularly noted for their outside shooting, the Warriors forced them almost completely off the line for most of the first half, and the Bears never made a 3-pointer for the game.

To its credit, Bear River, which fell to 9-2 on the season, is also enjoying unprecedented early success under fifth-year head coach Reggie Shaw.

“Bear River’s a really good team,” Cosby said. “They’ve been together for a really long time. Reggie’s done a really good job.”

Ultimately, much of the game through each quarter went as one would expect of a high-caliber 6A squad taking on a 4A team at home.

The lone exception to that was the first minutes of the second quarter. After the Warriors built an impressive 24-14 lead in the first quarter, leading by as many as 12 points early on, the Bears, forced to make offense happen under the hoop, muscled their way to a 12-1 run that earned a surprising 26-25 lead.

Schenck, who rested on the bench during most of that time, checked in almost immediately after, and the Warriors responded by opening fire from the arc.

Oberholtzer hit back-to-back 3s and Schenck hit another and a layup to close out the half on an 11-0 run.

“I don’t know if it was any adjustments,” Cosby said. “We jumped out to a lead and stopped doing some of the things that got us that lead. We were forcing some shots; we weren’t getting back in transition … they were getting some easy ones.”

The second half saw Weber take full control with its 3-point shooting as Schenck hit another three of them in just the third quarter, and the Warriors scarcely relented en route to the finish, outscoring the Bears 22-10 in the third to push the lead past 20.

The Warriors will cap off 2023 with a nonregion matchup at Roy on Friday, while Bear River starts off 2024 with a home matchup against Grantsville on Jan. 3.

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