Galena boys roll over Bucks
With a little help, the Galena High School boys basketball team still has an outside shot to win the Northern 4A Division I boys basketball championship.
Then again, as Grizzly coach Tom Maurer points out, all the help in the world won’t matter unless Galena takes care of business and wins each of its remaining regular season games.
Step one was achieved Saturday night, when Galena took care of the pesky Lowry Buckaroos 62-45 to extend its win streak to four games and stay within striking distance of co-Division I leaders Elko and McQueen.
Galena (16-10) is now alone in third place in Division I with its 5-3 record, one game behind 6-2 Elko and McQueen.
Now, here’s the playoff scenario: Galena, which holds the tiebreaker advantage over both Elko and McQueen, can take the division title if it wins two remaining home games – Tuesday against Sparks and Thursday against Reed. The Grizzlies also need both Elko and McQueen to lose one more game.
And since Elko hosts McQueen this coming Friday, the Grizzlies at least have a good shot at moving up to second and earning a home-court berth for the opening round of the Northern 4A zone tournament. Remember, the first-round winners advance to the zone final four and earn berths in the state tournament, which is held from Feb. 23-26 in Reno.
Maurer isn’t one to worry about scenarios, though.
“I want to get there and win the first game. That’s all that matters,” said Maurer, whose Grizzlies are the three-time defending zone tournament champs.
Joe Heaton scored 24 points, with 12 of those coming in the first quarter when Galena jumped out to a 20-9 advantage. Even though Lowry never got any closer than nine points after that, Maurer felt the Grizzlies experienced a little bit of a letdown.
“We won by 20, but let’s be honest, I felt we didn’t execute as well as we could have,” said Maurer, whose Grizzlies won 71-40 at McQueen on Friday. “We were coming off two emotional games where we beat two big-time teams, and then we jumped out to the early lead tonight. After that, I thought we played without emotion. I guess I have to understand that can happen with a young team like ours, but looking down the road, we’re not going to be able to do that. At zone, we’re going to have to play back-to-back games, and we’re going to have to play hard.”
Lowry coach Chad Peters was impressed with the Grizzlies. More so than he was after Galena’s 49-44 win against his Buckaroos Jan. 7 in Winnemucca.
“When we saw them in January, they were coming off the Texas trip and they looked tired,” Peters said. “Now, they’re back in Galena mode. They take very good care of the ball, they play solid defense and they’re very well prepared every time they take the floor.”
Galena did take good care of the ball in this game, committing only 12 turnovers. The Grizzlies had none in the first quarter.
Another factor was pressure defense, as the Grizzlies came up with four steals during their 14-3 run over a span of three minutes in the first quarter. They scored off each of those, including a breakaway layup by Mike Atkinson and another by Heaton. Atkinson finished with 14 points on the night.
Sam Sikes also scored 15 points, including 7-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line. The Grizzlies shot 15-for-16 from the line as a team in the fourth quarter.
Ben Bryson and sophomore Teo Maestrejuan scored 10 points each for the Buckaroos (11-13), who dropped to 1-7 in Division I. Four of those losses have come by a combined total of 11 points, including an overtime setback against Sparks.
“I’m proud of this team,” Peters said. These guys always do a good job of fighting to the end, it’s just that we needed to play extremely well to win here.”
Notes … The Galena girls rebounded from their first Division I loss of the season on Friday – 53-46 against McQueen – and posted a 53-39 triumph at Lowry. The Grizzlies are 7-1 in division play … Galena’s J.V. boys defeated Lowry 30-20 behind 12 points from Taylen Richards.