By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO - More often than not, a basketball coach would be satisfied if their team limited an opponent to 62 points.
Not Tom Maurer.
"Anytime a team scores more than 55 points against us, our chances of winning are going to be very limited," the Galena High boys basketball coach said. "I've always said that defense wins championships. I think this group will get there eventually, but they still have a ways to go."
It wasn't good enough to win on Saturday night, as Trey Armstrong and Ty Frazer combined to knock down nine three-pointers to lead Madison (Miss.) Ridgeland Academy past Galena 62-55 in the third-place game of the inaugural George Maldonado Memorial Classic played in The Cave at Galena.
Armstrong had 16 points with four three-pointers while Frazer added 15 points on five treys to show the way for MRA (12-3), the defending Mississippi state 3A and overall champion. Even though Galena (4-4) went 2-2 in the tournament, Maurer was able to look beyond the wins and losses.
"Of course, you always want to walk out on top, but I wanted to play these tough teams," he said. "I wanted to play the Mississippi team. They win state championships and he's (Richard Duease) a great coach."
The MRA Patriots went 36-6 last year, including a 2-2 showing at the Wild West Shootout in Reno, including dual state championships. The trip to Reno went well enough last year that Duease wanted to return again.
"We got a culture shock because we saw some great competition here. We had four tough games," said Duease, whose club won two of four tournament games. "Galena has a great ball club, too, though I think they may have been down a little after that tough loss last night."
The Grizzlies were coming off a heart breaking 60-58 loss against defending Nevada 4A state champion Bishop Gorman on Friday night, a game that was decided by Sam Goulet's three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left. Maurer made no excuses afterward.
"Please, don't write that we were tired. They played four tough games, too," he said. "They were pumped up to play. We got what we deserved. We're just going to be up and down with a very young team."
Galena's Luke Babbitt had another big game, as the 6-foot-8 sophomore scored 27 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter when the Grizzlies tried to rally back from as many as 13 points down. Babbitt had 37 and 17 rebounds in Galena's 68-62 win against powerful Modesto Christian on Thursday night.
This time, the Grizzlies were unable to overcome an outside sharpshooting show put on by MRA, a team that has surpassed 100 points in one game and 90 points in another so far this season. Armstrong buried a three-pointer, assisted by his twin brother, Brett, to give the Patriots a 49-38 lead and then Dallas Walker put in a layup to make it 51-38 at the end of three quarters.
Babbitt scored eight points to bring Galena back at the outset of the fourth quarter. Tristan Hill knocked down a three-pointer from the left corner, assisted by Justin Norvick, to cut the gap to 55-50 with 3:25 remaining.
That's as close as the Grizzlies would get, however. Brett Armstrong drove for a layup and then Frazer, a 6-2 senior guard who plans to go to Kentucky as a walk-on next year, buried a three-pointer from the left wing to make it 60-52. Brett Armstrong finished the game with 11 points.
"They played hard, that's never the problem. But they've got to know how to win and we made a lot of mistakes that hurt us tonight," Maurer said. "We're going to have to come back in a hurry, too. Reed comes here on Tuesday and they can bomb three-pointers, so we'd better be ready."
Reed visits Galena in the High Desert League opener for both teams on Tuesday night. The Grizzlies return to league action on Thursday with a game at McQueen.
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220