Galena wins showdown against Reno
RENO — The Galena Grizzlies’ boys basketball team knows better than most that victories in early December certainly don’t warrant a parade.
“Weíll see what happens in February,” Galena senior Luke Babbitt said after the Grizzlies’ 63-59 victory at Reno High over the Huskies Tuesday night. “Right now this really doesn’t matter.”
Oh, it mattered a little. The non-league game was a matchup of the last two Class 4A state champions as well as a meeting between two of the top seniors in the state in Babbitt and Reno’s Olek Czyz.
“I could see how people might look at it that way,” said Babbitt of his battle with Czyz. “But Olek and I have played against each other a lot of times. We didn’t really worry about that. This was really just Galena versus Reno.”
The Galena versus Reno war ended up much the same way as the Babbitt-Czyz battle. Babbitt, who is headed to the University of Nevada next season, outscored Duke-bound Czyz, 34-4. Czyz missed his first 13 shots and finished 1-of-14 from the floor.
“Luke is one of the best around,” Galena senior Jake Hess said. “He is one of the best players in the country. And he really showed it tonight.”
Babbitt outscored Czyz 18-2 in the first half as Galena built a 31-22 halftime lead.
“Luke is a baller,” Galena coach Tom Maurer said. “I’m not saying that Olek isn’t. But nobody puts in more time on the game than Luke. I’m from Indiana and I’m basketball crazy. I go 20 hours a day. But Luke puts in 22. The only time he gets away from the game is when he goes to church.”
“Luke is unbelievable,” Hess added. “He plays with so much heart.”
The Grizzlies, now 1-2, built a 22-point lead (57-35) as the 6-foot-8 Babbitt hit a jumper from the top of the key over the 6-foot-7 Czyz with 6:35 to play.
“We played real good defense in the first half,” Babbitt said. “That’s what got us the lead.”
Galena forced Reno into 12 turnovers in the first half. Galena, which committed 27 turnovers in a 58-46 loss to Bishop Gorman on Saturday, had just six turnovers in the opening half.
“We kept it simple,” Maurer said. “We still only have three sets in.”
Point guard Markis Robinson scored nine of his 14 points in the third quarter as Galena led 49-33 heading into the final quarter.
“As good as Luke is, he still needs four other guys out there to help him,” said Robinson, who drove the lane for a bucket and a 41-28 lead with 4:20 to go in the third quarter and drained a 3-pointer for a 46-30 lead with a minute left.
Robinson made six of his nine shots from the floor.
“When I get the open shot my job is to take it,” he said.
Babbitt, who was 11-of-25 from the field, calmly hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the third quarter for a 49-33 Galena lead.
“I was real cold early,” said Babbitt, who made just five of 15 shots in the first half. “I couldn’t make a shot.”
Babbitt opened the fourth quarter with three buckets and Robinson scored in the lane again as Galena opened up its 22-point lead.
“We knew they would make a run,” Robinson said. “And we kind of lost control a little bit. That’s something we have to work on.”
Babbitt knew the game was far from over despite the 22-point Galena lead with 6:35 to play.
“Every team is going to give us their best shot every game because we’re the state champs,” Babbitt said. “We knew they would come at us like that. They caught us off guard a little.”
The Huskies, who are still without point guard Roger Carlson, who suffered a knee injury last February, caught fire in the final three minutes. A couple of dunks by Cavin Hill started the comeback and then Austin Morgan joined in, shredding the Galena defense in the lane. The Reno guard scored 12 points in the fourth quarter — seven in the final 90 seconds – as Reno closed to within 3 (62-59) with 20 seconds to play.
“We only turned the ball over six times in the entire first half but then we turned it over seven times in the last four minutes of the game,” Maurer said.
Babbitt missed two free throws with the Grizzlies leading 62-54 with a minute to play. He then made one of two with 13 seconds to go for a 63-59 lead. Babbitt then blocked a 3-point attempt by Morgan with seven seconds to go to all but seal the victory.
“Tom Maurer doesn’t like to give up leads,” Maurer said. “Everybody knows that. But we don’t even have our stall in yet. We really couldn’t work the clock like we normally do. So I’m looking forward to the next two days of practice.
“You know, I never say there are lucky wins. But, tonight, we were lucky.”