Galena girls look to get back on track |

Galena girls look to get back on track

Dave Price

After having its bubble burst over the weekend, the Galena High School girls basketball team came out on Tuesday looking for a key win – not to mention a little momentum.

Led by Whitney Williams, who scored 10 of her game-high 17 points during a game-breaking third-quarter run, Galena picked up a 56-32 home triumph against Sparks that clinched the school’s first Northern 4A Division I girls basketball championship.

Galena (24-4) improved to 8-1 in Division I, one game ahead of McQueen in the standings with one game to go in the regular season. Even though the Grizzlies have clinched the division’s No. 1 seed for the zone tournament, they still feel the sting after having their seven-game win streak snapped with a 53-36 win loss last Friday at McQueen.

That’s why coach Karen Friel was looking for some momentum.

“That’s why in the third quarter I felt we needed to come out and press,” Friel said. “I wanted to get our intensity up and see if we could get on a little bit of a roll to build up toward zone. I wanted to play four solid quarters and I think we did that tonight.”

Defense certainly helped, as Galena used six steals to turn a 21-12 halftime lead into a 43-21 cushion at the end of three quarters. Three of those steals led directly to scores – and the contributions seemed to come from everywhere.

“We wanted to get the tempo up and make it into more of a full-court game,” Friel said. “Sparks is not a bad team. They play hard, they have some quick guards, and when they get the ball inside to the big girl (6-foot-3 Bridgette Williams), there’s not much you can do.”

Jayleen Chen tipped the ball to Annie Baxter for a steal that led to Williams hitting a baseline jumper that put Galena up 25-14. Moments later, Janelle Mack stole the ball and fed Williams for a layup.

Williams hit a jumper from the right side off an assist from Baxter to extend the lead to 29-14. Baxter drove the lane and dished to Williams underneath for a layup, and then Mack picked off a pass and went in for a layup that made it 37-19 with 2:52 remaining in the third period.

“After McQueen, we needed to pick it up and tonight was a start,” said Williams, a 6-foot senior. “Maybe that loss is going to help us. I think it made us realize we need to earn our position. It’s not going to be handed to us.”

Freshman guard Joanna Hixson also scored 10 points for the Grizzlies and Stephanie Luongo added seven, including a 3-pointer late in the second period. Williams led Sparks with 13 points.