Galena falls to powerhouse St. Francis |

Galena falls to powerhouse St. Francis

Staff Reports

Galena High School’s boys suffered their first loss of the season on Thursday night to visiting St. Francis, but it came in the probably best way possible.

The Grizzlies fell 60-56 to one of the premier programs in Northern California after watching a tie game slip away in the final seconds. St. Francis is ranked No. 1 in the Bay Area by one poll, and it returns nine players from a team that went 30-4 last season.

“We just play hard,” said Galena coach Tom Mauer when asked how his team stuck with a top-flight team. “We’re a team that doesn’t quit, and I’m proud of that. For a team with four sophomores and seven juniors, it’s great to see us hang in there.”

St. Francis was missing two of its better players, including one bound for the University of New Mexico on scholarship next season.

What hurt the Grizzlies was 24 turnovers, which meant that they trailed for most of the game and led only a few times.

Still, the contest was tied with 7 seconds remaining, when St. Francis’ Troy Biegemann converted two free throws after he was fouled in the act of shooting to give the Lancers a 58-56 lead.

Galena turned the ball over on its next possession on a pass that went out of bounds, and St. Francis hit a layup as time expired to secure the win.

Grizzly sophomore Joe Heaton stood out, scoring 13 points.

“He hit some key baskets for us at certain times,” Mauer said. “We were always struggling tonight and trying to climb the ladder.”

Sam Sikes also had 13 for Galena, while Mike Atkinson contributed eight.

Galena’s schedule doesn’t get any easier this weekend. The Grizzlies face Bishop O’Dowd out of Oakland, a team that is a familiar name with the state’s large-school championships, at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

“I could be bummed out about losing, but we have a tough one tomorrow,” Mauer said. “If we learned one lesson tonight, it’s that we need to take care of the ball.”

Mauer said he expects a big contrast tonight with O’Dowd after facing an up-tempo St. Francis squad.

“They’ll try to slow it down on us,” he said. “They’ll try to keep it in the 40s. They try to break you down. They’ll look for good shots, rebound – your basic quality high school team. It’ll be interesting to see how we transition to a different style.”