Maldonado Classic tips off today | NevadaAppeal.com

Maldonado Classic tips off today

MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Galena boys basketball coach Tom Mauer has a pretty good idea on what to expect today when the second annual George Maldonado Memorial Classic tips off at 5 p.m. at Galena High School with three non-bracket games.

The eight-team tournament – which features two nationally ranked teams – begins bracket play Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and concludes Saturday night.

“My vision is that the tournament will be just like the Reno game,” said Mauer, who was referring to the Dec. 6 Galena-Reno game, which filled the stands at Galena High School. “In 15 years that was the first time I’d seen us sell out the place the first week in December. That’s what I envision.

“Basketball enthusiasts will see that Mountain View (Mesa, Ariz.) can flat out coach. Coaching, strategy, great basketball and great talent: It’s something Northern Nevada deserves.”

Mountain View, rated No.1 in Arizona by Sports Illustrated in its high school preview, is 4-0 on the season, seeded third in the tournament and will open play today at 5 p.m. against Weston Ranch (Sacramento).

Mountain View will be led by 6-foot-8 senior center Karper Kamp, who signed with California, 6-3 senior point guard Kendall Walllace (UNLV) and 6-7 senior Justin Wesolowski (Northern Colorado).

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The Douglas Tigers – the only other Northern Nevada team besides Galena in the tourney – will open play at 6:30 p.m. against Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.), with Galena and Artesia (Lakewood, Calif.) closing out the evening at 8 p.m.

Douglas is 6-0, won last weekend’s Carson Valley Classic, and is led by 6-foot-10 senior center Keith Olsen, who signed with Northern Arizona.

The Tigers will have all they can handle with the Apaches, which SI ranked No. 15 nationally and No. 1 in Florida. The Apaches (4-0) are coming off a 27-3 season in which they won their second consecutive Class 2A state championship.

They are led by 6-foot-8 senior forward A.J. Stewart – a Kentucky signee – who averaged 17 points per game last year and was the state tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

The Douglas-Arlington Country Day contest will be followed by what Mauer called “the marquee game at 8 p.m.” – Galena vs. Artesia.

The Pioneers were ranked No. 1 in the nation by hoops.com and No. 2 by Sports Illustrated and USA Today in their preseason polls. Artesia (4-0) finished last season 33-1and won the Division III state championship.

The Pioneers are loaded with talent. Senior guard James Harden (Arizona State) averaged 18.6 ppg last season and will have help from junior guard Malik Story (USC) and the No. 1 sophomore in the country, Piney Woods and transfer Renardo Sidney.

Artesia is the third nationally ranked team that Galena (2-3) has faced this season. The Grizzlies, who are coming off a 77-73 victory over View Park (Calif.), are led by highly recruited 6-foot-8 center Luke Babbitt (25 ppg last season), 6-6 senior forward Eric Maupin, who is being recruited by Pepperdine and has had some interest shown in him by Washington, and 6-5 senior point guard Tristan Hill, whom Mauer said is “being recruited by every Division-II school in Northern California.”

Galena, which finished last season 22-7 and was eliminated by Reno in the Northern 4A regional semifinals, was named the No. 1 team in Nevada by Sports Illustrated. The Grizzlies lost to No.16 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) and No. 17 Westchester (Los Angeles).

“We’re not playing to our potential two weeks into the season,” Mauer said. “Galena High School (boys basketball) right now is having trouble with chemistry. It’s been exhibited in our five games.

“I feel strongly that we should be 4-1. Both teams we played – Mitty and Westchester – we were down by only two points. We can’t finish in the second half. We lose our intensity and focus.”

Mauer said Sunday he was going to have a heartfelt talk with his team.

“I’m expecting in the third week of the season that we develop a better understanding of how to play with each other,” Mauer said. “I’m upset with the defense. We’re giving up an average of 70 points. My message (on Monday) will be that we have to improve on defense, improve on chemistry and have each player reaching his potential.”

Mauer said he will be looking to his bench for more scoring.

“You want to get better every time and, at this point, we’re not,” Mauer said. “We’ve got to start doing that. Conference (play) will be starting. I’m very respectful to Northern Nevada teams. (The Reno-Galena game) shows that we have talent in Northern Nevada. Reno gave us everything we could handle.

“You have to get better every day. Other teams are. Douglas is doing an outstanding job. (Tigers coach) Rob (Streeter) is doing a very good job. When I look at the big picture, I’m not happy where we are today. With Reno winning the state championship last year, it opened everybody’s eyes. I hope that the two Northern Nevada teams will be very representative in this tournament.”

Tickets are $7 daily for adults, $5 for students. Tournament tickets for all four days are $24 (adults) and $17 (students). Proceeds will go to Northern Nevada Boys and Girls Clubs, Brainpower (which addresses Attention Deficit Disorder, dyslexia, autism and other speech and learning difficulties) and the Jason Foundation (which was established to help prevent teenage suicide).

For more information, log on to http://www.maldonadoclassic.com.