Slowly but surely, the Dolores Bears girls basketball team is evolving into a squad that San Juan Basin League opponents would just as soon avoid.
Never has the Bears' evolution been more apparent than it was on Dec. 20 when Dolores traveled to Mancos and registered a scintillating 53-51 win.
Keying the Bears attack was super senior Brianna Schwartz, who, in addition to scoring 21 points, played tough defense on Bluejays star Brandi Bundy after the Mancos star erupted for 12 points in the first quarter.
Trailing 20-10, the Bears began creeping back in the second quarter, pulling to within 30-27 by halftime.
After a competitive third quarter that saw both teams score from multiple spots on the floor, the Bears regained the lead, pulling ahead 41-40 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bluejays were far from done however, and, after tying the game at 51 late in the fourth quarter on a pair of clutch free throws, called timeout with 10 seconds to go.
Unable to steal the Bears' in-bounds pass, the Bluejays were forced to play defense on Schwartz, who blew past her defender only to narrowly miss a layup with roughly 5 seconds to go.
Luckily for the Bears, junior Jessica Schliesser was there to collect the offensive rebound however, and, after gathering herself, scored an open layup with 2 seconds to go to give the Bears a 53-51 lead.
After Schwartz stole the ensuing Bluejays' inbounds pass and the clock expired, Dolores fans erupted, loudly voicing their approval of the big Bears win.
With the victory, the Bears improved their record to 4-3 on the year while the Bluejays fell to 1-5 on the year.
With no games scheduled until early January, the Bears will enjoy a much-needed break before returning to action at home against Montezuma-Cortez on Jan. 11.