Galena boys beat Reed
RENO — Deon Ashley knew he had a job to do Thursday night.
“It was a big challenge for me,” the Galena High guard said after his 13 points helped the Grizzlies hold off the Reed Raiders, 59-55, in the High Desert League opener for both teams. “I just wanted to contribute to the team anyway I could.”
The 5-foot-8 junior, making just his second start of the season, was given the challenge of guarding Reed point guard Omarri Williams. Ashley held Williams to eight points, just two in the second half.
“We wanted him to play Omarri,” Galena coach Tom Maurer said. “And, for the most part, he played very well.”
Williams converted just two of his eight shots from the field.
“Coach told me to just fulfill my role,” said Ashley, who transferred to Galena this summer from Oakland (Calif.) Skyline High. “And my role is to knock down some big shots and play hard.”
Ashley did just that, complementing Luke Babbitt’s game-high 29 points, with some clutch shots. His 3-pointer in the first quarter gave Galena an 11-3 lead. His second 3-pointer gave Galena a 20-10 lead midway through the second quarter.
“For a transfer who has only been with me five or six weeks, he’s done a great job so far,” Maurer said. “But he still has some things he needs to work on.”
Ashley then hit a 10-foot jumper from the right side with a minute to go in the third quarter for a 41-30 Galena advantage. His layup and free throw put Galena on top 55-47 with three minutes to play and his two crucial free throws gave Galena a 58-53 lead with 39 seconds left.
“This team is not just about Luke,” Ashley said. “It’s about the whole team contributing and helping each other out.”
The Grizzlies, though, were all about Babbitt in the first quarter. The 6-foot-8 senior scored 12 points in the first eight minutes as Galena jumped out to a 15-8 lead. Babbitt scored Galena’s first eight points and last four of the quarter sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Ashley.
“Luke did get a little tired out there,” Maurer said. “But that was more because he is getting sick (with the flu) rather than just getting tired.”
Babbitt, who made 11-of-29 shots, didn’t score in the second quarter as the rest of the Grizzlies built a 31-16 halftime lead. Scott Bristol and Jake Mansfield each had a pair of buckets in the quarter. A layup by Mansfield off one of 11 turnovers by Reed in the first half gave Galena its biggest lead of the first half at 27-10.
The Grizzlies’ lead reached 18 (34-16) just 20 seconds into the third quarter as Babbitt finally got a layup to fall after three consecutive offensive rebounds. The Raiders, though, promptly went on a 10-0 run thanks to eight points from Nick Dixon inside.
“Just like the Reno game, we have to learn how to keep a lead,” Maurer said.
Just like the Reno game, when a comfortable 49-33 lead after three quarters turned into a 63-59 victory, the Grizzlies held onto the lead against Reed. The Raiders, though, did pull within three on three different occasions. The last time was at 58-55 on a layup by Travis Peterson with 5.5 seconds to play. Peterson, who finished with a team-high 16 points, also cut Galena’s lead to 56-53 with two minutes to play.
“The bottom line is we did hold the lead so hats off to the team that does that,” Maurer said.
The Grizzlies, the defending High Desert League, Northern 4A Region and Class 4A state champs, are now 1-0 in league play.
“This was a big victory for us,” said Ashley, who played the final seven minutes of the game with four fouls. “It was our first conference game of the year. We showed that Galena basketball is still here.”
Maurer was pleased to see contributions from the likes of Victor Walker, Mansfield, Ashley and Bristol. The four combined to make 11 of 15 shots and score 28 points.
“This team doesn’t play with a lot of emotions,” smiled Maurer. “They are silent in their actions. Sometimes I wish they were more like me and showed their emotions more. But this works for them.”
The Grizzlies will host the Douglas Tigers tonight (7 p.m.) in a non-league game before leaving Christmas day for a tournament in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 26-29. Galena’s next High Desert game won’t be until Jan. 4 in Elko.
“Weíre still just 5-5,” Maurer said. “But this was big for us. We didn’t want to wait around for two weeks at 0-1 (in league).”