With only five losses in 29 games, it's obvious that the Reno High School boys basketball team has given a lot of teams trouble this season.
Galena (20-10) is one of the few teams that can say it had no trouble against the Huskies this season. The Grizzlies won by 15 points, 61-46, in the teams' lone meeting of the season on Dec. 7.
But neither Galena coach Tom Maurer nor the Grizzly players expect another easy win this afternoon when Galena and Reno play in the Northern 4A Zone semifinals at 4:35 p.m. at Carson High.
"(Reno High coach Pete Padgett) made adjustments after that game," said Maurer before Galena's practice on Thursday. "They've done some new things with their offense, posting up (David) Woods and (David) Padgett more, and they're doing a better job ballhandling and preventing turnovers.
"In my opinion, we're playing the hottest team in Northern Nevada. Ever since they played nationally-ranked DeLaSalle (Concord, Calif.) competitively in their tournament, they've been playing flat-out great basketball."
Galena 6-foot-4 senior forward Mike Atkinson said the Grizzlies will need a defensive performance similar to the one the team put together on Dec. 7 if Galena is to have a chance against the Division II regular-season champions and advance to Saturday's zone championship.
"Defense was the key to that game - hard-nosed defense is what usually wins it for us," said Atkinson. "I think Reno is the team to beat (in zone); they have more offensive threats than South Tahoe.
"There is never an easy game in zone. It comes down to who wants it more."
Maurer said he would decide how he would defend Reno's big offensive threats - forward Woods, freshman center Padgett, and guard Alex Gamboa (18.6 ppg) - following practice. He said Galena's game plan for Reno is entirely different than the one it had Tuesday when the Grizzlies defeated Carson, 61-54.
"This is a whole new ballgame," said Maurer, whose Grizzlies are chasing their fourth consecutive zone title. "Reno is a different type of team, one that runs a full-court press and is more aggressive and moves more offensively. Our defensive schemes are out the window."
Although Atkinson and Joe Heaton were Galena's leading scorers on Tuesday, Maurer said 6-4 junior forward Greg Thetford is the Grizzly player to keep an eye on tonight.
"Thetford will play a key role," Maurer said. "He's quick and 6-foot-3 and can hit from the top of the key, like Atkinson. They give Reno a problem - do they want to honor (our outside shooting) or play off of us?"
South Tahoe and McQueen play in tonight's other semifinal, which is set to start at 7 p.m.
Notes: Maurer said everyone on the Grizzly roster is healthy and can play today. Ironically, the only injury on the team is to Maurer himself, as he currently has a case of gout (a type of arthritis of the foot) Former Galena player Brian Vaka, now playing for Santa Clara, will be at Carson High on Saturday to cheer on his old school Carson City resident Lance Buoncristiani, who played for Galena last year, has appeared in all but one of Idaho's games this season.