To glance at the Galena High School boys basketball team's early season schedule, it would be easy to accuse coach Tom Maurer of being downright sadistic.
After all, the Grizzlies traveled to central California last weekend to tune up for their season with a four-team scrimmage against two state ranked powers, Clovis West and De La Salle. Clovis West, now under the direction of first-year head coach Tom Orlich (formerly at South Tahoe High) was ranked No. 15 and De La Salle No. 17 among all schools in California and in the CalHiSports preseason rankings.
Then on Wednesday, the Grizzlies opened at home in The Cave and dropped a hard-fought 64-61 decision against Memorial High from Victoria, Texas.
Life is not getting any easier, either, because they return to action Saturday night and host perennial Bay area power St. Ignatius of San Francisco in a 6:30 p.m. contest. The Galena girls face Las Vegas High in a preliminary game at 4:30.
"This is a big week for us," Maurer said. "We could be 0-2 at the end of the week. St. Ignatius is tough. We played them over the summer. We only lost by six or seven points, but they are really physical and just an aggressive team."
Next on the schedule, Galena travels to South) Tahoe on Tuesday for a game between teams that expect to contend for the Northern 4A playoffs this season. Foothill (Henderson) visits Galena on next Saturday. Then the Grizzlies play in the high-powered Las Vegas Holiday Prep Classic starting on Dec. 19. Then its on to the equally prestigious National Prep Classic Dec. 26-30 in San Diego, where the Grizzlies open against Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland, a team listed No. 18 overall by the CalHiSports preseason rankings.
Nor will there be any letup after New Year's, because the Grizzlies play three games in the Bar area on Jan. 2-4 against powers St. Francis (Mountain View), St. Joseph's (Alameda, Jason Kidd's alma mater) and Nevada Union (Grass Valley).
Sure, it's going to be a challenge. Then again, this is a program that has faced similar challenges in the past. And a program that has reigned as Northern 4A tournament champion four times in the last six years.
Galena features a veteran roster that includes 10 returnees from a team that went 13-14 last season.
Leading the way now are senior veterans Tommy Myers (currently injured), Whip Thompson, Dalton Turnbow, Nick Zuccarini, Mikey Ferguson and Sheldon Hutchins.
Another player to watch is 6-foot-3 sophomore forward Derek Lorenzen, who had 16 points and seven rebounds in Galena's opener against Memorial. He saw varsity time as a freshman last season and averaged five points per game despite a number of injuries.
Juniors Iain Hill (6-7), Bobby Contreras, Justin Houk, Jigar Patel and Francisco Paredes are also expected to contribute. Contreras had nine points and four offensive rebounds against Memorial, a team that went 26-7 and advanced to the Texas 5A playoffs last season.
The early schedule is designed to be challenging, according to Maurer.
"I think we play a very devastating schedule, but we gear it toward the end of the year," Maurer said. "That's been my philosophy about the preseason all along. You try and play the best competition possible. This will give our kids a chance to see the big picture and hopefully come league, they'll be ready,"
The plan is to get ready for what promises to be a challenging High Desert League season.
"I think Reed has to be favored; McQueen, that's going to be a good team in January after football ends; and Fallon's going to be OK, too," Maurer said.