RENO -- For the first time in two years, Durango held practice at Douglas High, like always, the day before its first round game in the state tournament.
"We jumped on the bus at 7 in the morning, drove up and practiced at Douglas, just like always," said long-time Durango coach Al LaRocque. "Years ago, we came up and saw the big D on the mountain and I told the kids it was for Durango."
The Trailblazers, who have won two state championships under LaRocque, are now only one game away from getting a shot at winning a third. Todd LaMasters scored a game high 18 points and sophomore Lamar Falley had 17 as Durango beat Galena 66-55 on Wednesday in the NIAA/4A State Championships at Lawlor Events Center.
The Grizzlies trailed only 29-28 with with under a minute left in the first half. But the Trailblazers scored the final five points of the half, then started the second half on a 9-2 to go up 43-30. Galena cut it to five, 47-42, going into the fourth quarter but never got closer than that.
"We didn't play the best we could," said Galena coach Tom Maurer. "But we would've had to play pretty much a perfect game to beat that team. We've played a million games against good teams, but none of these kids have played in a state game before. The bottom line is Durango was the better team."
Durango (22-11) will play Palo Verde tonight at 6:35 in the semifinals. Cheyenne will play Rancho in the other semifinal at 3:20 p.m.
But if the Trailblazers are to advance to the championship game, they might have to do it without Tywain McTyer. The junior guard injured his knee in the first quarter and never returned. McTyer, who is averaging 11.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg, is listed as questionable for the rest of the weekend.
"We're worried about Ty," said LaRocque, who was a teammate of former Douglas girls and boys coach Randy Green. "That's 12 points and 12 rebounds on the bench and we can't afford that. But we've got four guys averaging 11 points a game. Unless we do it as a team, we're not going anywhere. We opened the season with Palo Verde so we're back where we started."
The Grizzlies (15-16) led a few times early before Durango went on a 10-2 run to go up 23-17 with 5:55 left before halftime. Dalton Turnbow, who scored a team high 14 points, kept the Grizzlies close, making three baskets in the second quarter as the Grizzlies trailed 34-28 at halftime.
"I think strength was a big issue," Maurer said. "You saw Dalton and Bobby (Contreras) getting rebounds. That was it. Their kids know to play to win."
In the third quarter, Galena trailed by as many as 13 points, 43-30, before a Derek Lorenzen 3-pointer and a Turnbow layup got the Grizzlies within five going into the fourth, 47-42. That's when LaMasters took over.
The 6-foot-4 senior, who is one of those players averaging around 11 per game, scored 10 points and had four assists in the final quarter alone. The Grizzlies never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Lorenzen had 12 and Tommy Myers 13 for Galena. Kenny Anderson had 13 and Houston Power had 10 for the Trailblazers, who average five players in double figures.
CHEYENNE 77, HUG 40
Lorrenzo Wade scored 22 points and Maurice Andrews had 15 as the Desert Shields cruised in their first round win over the Hawks.
Hug fell behind 15-5 in the first quarter and never regrouped. It was outscored in every quarter, including 23-9 in the third quarter. Mario Benitez was the only Hug player in double figures. He finished with 12.
Cheyenne improves to 29-1 and will play Rancho today at 3:20 in the state semifinals.
PALO VERDE 68, VALLEY 49
Josh Steffen scored 18, Nate Schulte had 12 and Lendor Coney 11 as the Panthers took care of the Vikings in a first round game.
Palo Verde trailed 14-12 after the first quarter but outscored Valley 42-18 in the next two quarters.
The Vikings (13-18), the only team in the tournament with a losing record, was led by Nick Green, who scored 21 points.
Durango 66, Galena 55
Durango 16 18 13 19 -- 66
Galena 15 13 14 13 -- 55
Anderson 6 1-1 13, McTyer 1 0-1 2, Wood 1 2-4 4, Power 4 0-0 10, Falley 4 0-0 17, LaMasters 6 6-6 18, Donorfrio 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 9-12 66.
Myers 3 6-8 13, Turnbow 7 0-0 14, Zuccarini 1 0-0 3, Lorenzen 5 0-0 12, Ferguson 2 0-0 4, Hutchins 2 0-0 4, Contreras 2 1-2 5. Totals 22 7-12 55.
3-point goals: Durango 5 (Falley 3, Power 2), Galena 4 (Lorenzen 2, Zuccarini, Myers 1).