WEST VALLEY CITY — Even after seeing Canyon View deliver a first-half's worth of dominating play, Bear River forward Wade Bronson saw no reason to panic.

It didn't matter the Bears' two leading scorers — Jake Miller and Matt Weyland — had been limited on the offensive end so far. It also didn't concern him that Tyson McGrath seemed to conjure up a basket whenever the Falcons needed one.

Bronson felt confident the final two quarters would belong to Bear River.

"Mostly we're just a second-half team," Bronson said. "That's just how we play our game."

The Bears indeed ruled the second half after clamping down defensively and making McGrath a non-factor in the fourth quarter. From there, Bear River pulled away with a 50-40 victory on Thursday afternoon.

The Bears reached the 3A semifinals for a second consecutive year and will play Judge Memorial today.

McGrath only scored two points in the final quarter for Canyon View. The Bears shut him out during the final five minutes of the game by doubling down on McGrath in the post and forcing him to kick it outside.

With his teammates unable to pick up the slack, the Falcons quickly lost ground — falling behind by as many as 12 points before the final buzzer.

It was exactly what the Bears hoped would happen after they made a defensive adjustment at halftime once they saw McGrath was responsible for the lion's share of Canyon View's offensive production.

"I thought our depth kind of wore them out," said Bear River coach Van Park. "They didn't shoot quite as well and it's definitely going to come down to defense every game."

Bear River had no troubles finding alternate scorers during crucial stretches. During the third quarter when neither Miller nor Weyland could get anything going on offense, for example, the Bears simply spread the wealth.

Bronson, in particular, made a couple of huge baskets. After McGrath converted a three-point play to put Canyon View up 27-25, the senior answered with a go-ahead layup with 2:09 left in the third. Then Bronson followed with a three-pointer and free throw his next time down the court to put Bear River ahead for good at 32-29 with 1:27 left.

It was a sweet moment for Bronson, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three steals, after struggling the past few months to return from a knee injury.

"I'm so happy for Wade because he had to sit out the first half of the year with his knee surgery from football," Park said. "He was really frustrated because he wasn't playing to what he was capable of. Now he's finally got his strength and wind and everything back."

The game pitted two of the top three scorers in 3A and both showed why they are up there. McGrath scored Canyon View's first nine second quarter points to push the Falcons out to a 21-14. The fourth quarter belonged to Miller. He scored 10 of his 19 during that stretch, with his final basket putting the Bears up 50-38 with 16 seconds left.


E-mail: jcoon@desnews.com