Carson and Galena boys to square off in playoff opener
It may be a new century, but in the first round of the Northern 4A Zone boys’ playoffs, Carson High School and Galena will be playing like it’s 1999.
Just like last season, the Senators and Grizzlies will do battle in the opening round of the zone playoffs. Carson High School will travel to face Galena at 7 p.m. Tuesday in one of four first-round games.
The winner advances to the semifinals and gets a berth in the state tourney, while the loser is done for the year.
Last year Galena knocked Carson out on the strength of Lance Buoncristiani’s 34 points. This year, Grizzly coach Tom Maurer knows things are different, even if his team is riding a six-game winning streak.
“Carson is the most talented team in the league from 1-to-5,” he said. “They’ve got guys like Lee Biddlecome and Cody Longero, who I think is one of the best players in the league. We’re the hunters on Tuesday – I think we’re underdogs.”
Part of Maurer’s opinion stems from his belief that Division II was a tougher league than his Division I, and he added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see all four Division II teams pull off first-round victories.
“They’ve been beating up on each other all season over there,” he said. “That’s a tough division. We’re No. 2 in ours, but it’s not the same.”
The two teams have met once already in The Cave this season. Galena defeated the Senators 49-39 back on Dec. 14, but it was Lee Biddlecome’s season debut after he missed the first three games with an ankle injury.
Carson has played some outstanding basketball of late, and coach Tom Andreasen sounds cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances.
“We’re playing a lot better,” he said. “If we play the way we’re capable of, it’s going to be a great game. We’ve got to handle their pressure and win the battle on the backboard.”
Individual matchups could be interesting.
Against the 6-foot-9 Biddlecome, Galena has a number of options. Travis Williams (6-9, Jr.) played well defensively against Sean Paul, the North’s other elite 4A center who is bound for Nevada this fall. Mark Cofer (6-5, Jr.) has also emerged as a solid post player, and even Mike Atkinson (6-4, Sr.) could see some defensive duty against Biddlecome.
“That’s one positive thing about our team – we go 12 deep,” Maurer said. “It’ll all depend on Monday’s practice who we go with. “
Other matchup problems loom though. Maurer believes his team will have a tough time answering defensively to the challenge Longero and Vin Reymus pose.
“Biddlecome’s been playing real well lately,” he said. “They’re the team everyone’s afraid to play. They’re just dynamite.”
Andreasen sees defensive problems of his own when thinking about the Grizzly lineup. He was particularly effusive in his praise of Atkinson and sharpshooter Joe Heaton (6-3, Sr.), as well as Sam Sikes (6-0, Jr.)
“They’ve got some great players,” he said. “Those three are thoroughbred athletes, and just fantastic.”
Senator center Matt Leck (6-4, Sr.) could play a key role in this game with his work under the backboard. Size and rebounding are two factors both coaches agreed would be critical.
Other boys’ first-round matchups could prove interesting.
Elko will play at South Tahoe, Sparks travels to Reno, and Churchill County will face McQueen, the top seed from Division I. All games begin at 7 p.m.
Carson will host the semifinals and finals for both the boys’ and girls tourneys. Those games will be played on Friday and Saturday.