RENO - With coaches from Nevada, Syracuse, UCLA and Washington looking on, talented sophomore Luke Babbitt scored 25 points to help power Galena to a 61-37 win over Santa Rita of Tucson, Ariz., in the first round of the George Maldonado Memorial Classic Wednesday night at Galena.
In other first-round action, North Valleys knocked off Oakland Tech 103-77 thanks to 45 points by Archie Kovach, and Modesto Christian pounded Douglas 92-66 thanks to 24 points by Adrian Oliver. Keith Olson led Douglas with 16.
Galena returns to action tonight against Modesto Christian and plays Friday at 8 against Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas.
"The kids played pretty good," Galena coach Tom Maurer said. "We had a big height advantage and took advantage of it . They weren't able to get second and third shots.
"The scouting report we had was that (Alex) Walker was one-handed. We did a good job on him."
Walker did finish with 11, all in the final 16 minutes, and all after Galena had the game put away.
Galena scored the game's first 12 points and 20 of the first 25. It was the defense plus the play of Babbitt and Eric Maupin, who added 14 points and five rebounds, who got the job done at the offensive end.
Maupin scored five of Galena's first seven points, and then Babbitt scored the next five. Santa Rita, which turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter, finally scored with less than two minutes left.
Galena's lead stayed at 10 through the first four minutes of the second quarter, but the Grizzlies reeled off the next 14 points over the next 3 minutes 44 seconds to extend their lead to 34-10.
Brice Crook started the surge with a putback and Maupin hit from the foul line. Crook scored again, and then Babbitt scored twice in nine seconds to make it 30-10. J.D. Peters got into the scoring act after another Santa Rita turnover, and Babbitt concluded the barrage with two free throws.
Galena led 35-11 after 16 minutes, and Maurer said it was the team's best defensive half of the young season. Galena rotated between zone and man-to-man, and Santa Rita never got into an offensive rhythm.
"We mixed it up a bit," Maurer said. "I'm glad they went to their 1-3-1 offense."
Galena put together a 7-0 run late in the third quarter, as Babbitt converted a three-point play off a putback, and Maupin and Crook each scored a basket to make it 43-16, which was the Grizzlies' biggest lead of the game.
Santa Rita outscored Galena 10-0 at the tail end of the third quarter and the first minute-plus of the fourth quarter to get the lead to 20, 47-27. That's the closest Santa Rita would get the remainder of the game.
Maurer praised the play of Maupin.
"I told him when he came out that he did a lot of good things that wouldn't show up in a boxscore,' the Galena coach said. "He could be the best player in Northern Nevada if Babbitt wasn't here."
Maupin's presence helps Babbitt in the sense that if opposing teams double or triple-team him, Maupin will make them pay.
Notes: Crook also reached double figures, scoring 11. Bill Miller led Santa Rita with 13 points and Walker added 11 ... Galena shot the ball well, connecting on 10 of 16 from the field in the first half and 12 of 22 in the second half. That will be enough to win a lot of games.