RENO -- Even at the end of what had been a long day, the Memorial High School boys basketball team found a way to make some big plays down the stretch and pull out a 64-61 victory against Galena Wednesday night.
Bennie Stanley scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter, including four free throws in the final 65 seconds to help the Vipers from Victoria, Texas, win the first game of a four-day visit to northern Nevada and spoil Galena's season opener in The Cave.
"It was a good win for us because we've been up a long time. We left Victoria at 3:45 (a.m.) Texas time, which was 1:45 here, so it's been a long day," said Memorial coach John Grammer, whose squad improved its season record to 5-1. "We showed some signs of travel; we missed a lot of easy shots, turned the ball over. But we had to make some defensive stops and some big rebounds down the stretch, and that was good.
The Grizzlies fought back from a six-point deficit in the final 50 seconds and actually had a chance to win the game at the end after senior guard Whip Thompson knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. They never got off a shot, however, when Memorial's 6-foot-7 center J.D. Holzheauser came up with a loose ball. Bo Matson sank the first of two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to effectively put the game away for Memorial.
"I think when you're in the game at the end, you need to come out on top," Galena coach Tom Maurer said. "We didn't do a very good job of taking care of the ball and we allowed one kid to score a lot of points in that fourth quarter."
Stanley, who just finished his football season when Memorial lost in the playoffs last Friday, did most of his damage at the end.
"He's a very good wide receiver in football just came out on Monday, so this was his first game," Grammer said of Stanley. "He's a four-year letterman, so we're glad to have him out there."
Stanley scored on a baseline drive to break a 45-45 tie and give Memorial the lead for good with 6:31 left to play. He also converted four straight layups to make it 61-55 with 1:05 showing on the clock.
"The long distance scouting report that I had said they would try to control the ball, set a lot of screens and run that motion offense, and they did a good job of it," Grammer said of the Grizzlies.
"We really had a chance to put them away early, but we let it slip away just by making turnovers and missing easy shots," he added, referring to Memorial's 12-2 lead at the outset of the game.
Galena trailed 15-10 at the end of the first quarter and 31-28 at halftime. The Grizzlies took their only lead at the end of the third quarter when a Sheldon Hutchins steal on the defensive end led to Mikey Ferguson feeding Lorenzen for a buzzer-beating layup. The play gave Galena a 45-44 lead.
Sophomore forward Derek Lorenzen led all scorers with 16 points for Galena, plus he grabbed seven rebounds (six offensive). Thompson scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, while Dalton Turnbow contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Memorial was led by sophomore forward Jeremy Barnett with 15 points, while Matson added 12 and Holzheauser 10 for the Vipers, who were 26-7 and reached the second round of the Texas 5A playoffs last season.
Memorial returns to action today for the first round of Douglas High School's second annual Carson Valley Classic in Minden. The Vipers play Rancho Cotati at 6:30 p.m.
In other tournament games, Carson plays Merced (Calif.) at 3:30, Fallon plays Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) at 5 and Douglas plays Laguna Creek (Elk Grove, Calif.) at 8.