The well-rested Summerville High School boys' basketball team returned to action on Friday night from a 12-day layoff to face perhaps its toughest non-Mother Lode League opponent of the season in Benicia at Summerville gym in Tuolumne.

Against the Division II Panthers (who play in the mostly Division I Monticello Empire League), the Division IV Bears managed to stay within striking distance for most of the game until Benicia pulled away midway through the fourth quarter for a 72-52 victory.

With Bryan Campbell scoring nine of his 17 points in the first quarter, Benicia (11-3) looked like it would blow out the Bears in grabbing a 19-11 lead.

But with Jake Heldstab, Joe Sanders and Quint Gerber each hitting a 3-pointer in the second quarter, the Bears (10-5) managed to cut the Panthers' lead to one point three different times before settling for a 34-31 halftime deficit.

If the Panthers were cold from the field to start the second half, hitting just three field goals in the first 6:11 of the third quarter, the Bears were uncommonly frigid. It took Summerville almost six minutes into the third quarter before Cody Munsel grabbed a rebound and scored the putback for the Bears to get on the board and cut Benicia's lead to 41-33.

Although an 8-3 run by Summerville over the final 2:51 of the third quarter allowed the Bears to trim Benicia's lead from 44-33 to 47-41 entering the fourth, it turned out to be Summerville's last gasp.

With Matt Castillo scoring 15 of his game-high 23 points in the final period, Benicia outscored the Bears 25-11 to turn the game into a rout.

Adam Artzer led the Bears in scoring with a season-high 12 points, while Charley Pierce added a career-high 10. Munsel chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds, and Sanders scored nine points to go along with six rebounds.

The Bears close out their preseason this week when they host Hilmar on Tuesday before visiting Hughson on Friday.

The Union Democrat
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