It didn’t rock again until about 12 minutes had ticked off the clock. But halfway through the second quarter, something happened that even Huskies fans had to applaud — the Grizzlies made a shot. They actually made three in a row.
And despite shooting an astonishing 3-of-18 in the first half, Galena only trailed by eight at the break, allowing the Grizz to stick around.
In the end though, it was Reno senior point guard David Abittan who took control and kept the Grizzlies at bay. Abittan scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 10-for-10 at the charity stripe, to lead the Huskies to a 42-32 Northern 4A quarterfinal win.
“It’s like a heavyweight fight where you’re exchanging blows back and forth and the last guy standing wins,” Reno boys basketball coach Kyle Schellin said. “We had some great senior leadership with David Abittan and R.J. Bush. We were able to use that experience and get the victory.”
While Galena missed all six of its shots in the first quarter and turned the ball over eight times, Reno didn’t capitalize much on the extra opportunities, going 2-for-11 from the field.
Abittan drained a 3-pointer two and a half minutes into the game and Connor Bush added at putback two and a half minutes later, giving the Huskies a 5-0 lead after one quarter of play. Bush tallied the first four points of the second quarter, increasing Reno’s lead to 9-0.
Galena also missed its first six shots of the second quarter, but ended its 0-for-12 drought with 4:14 remaining in the first half thanks to Ej Poulsen following his own miss.
The Grizzlies made three shots in a row from the field and cut the deficit to five, 11-6, with 2:46 to go in the half. Reno led 14-6 at the break.
Black and Gold fans believed their team’s offense couldn’t go anywhere but up. The ‘law of averages’ would suggest that. However, they never considered Galena was stuck in a deep and lengthy valley.
The third quarter was much of the same for both teams. The Grizzlies cleaned up their act in the second quarter, committing only two turnovers, but the giveaway special came back in the third.
Galena had seven turnovers and was 3-of-12 shooting. Reno’s eight turnovers cut down on the visitors’ opportunities as they shot 2-for-6 in the third. The Huskies led by as much as 13 in the third quarter, 19-6. But that’s when junior guard Caleb Wood began lighting it up for the home team. Wood scored all six of his team’s third-quarter points, but Reno was ahead 19-12 after three quarters. Galena was still 39 points under its 51 points per game average in Northern 4A league action this year.
Everyone expected a defensive struggle between the two teams who battled to a 47-46 Reno decision during the regular season.
Both teams entered the postseason with identical 10-6 records and as arguably the two hottest teams. The Huskies won their last three games, including an upset of High Desert League champion Hug, while the Grizzlies had won seven in a row before falling in their regular-season finale.
They were also two of the lowest scoring teams in the North. Both squads were coming off season finales in which they didn’t score more than 40 points.
It was going to take one heck of a fourth quarter Wednesday night for both teams to get over the 40-point plateau. As the final eight minutes began, there was a noticeable change. Neither team could miss.
The heavyweight fight finally began.
While the teams traded blows in some exciting back-forth-action, it mattered little. The Huskies already owned a big enough advantage, taking a nine-point edge to start the fourth and eliminate much of the drama.
“They’re a tough matchup for us. They’ve got the size. They’ve got the guard play,“ Schellin said. “We had to manufacture our offense. Once we were able to compose ourselves offensively, we were able to make the extra pass, get inside and make some easy shots. We weren’t able to do that in the first half. Guys were anxious. There’s a lot of pressure in this game, so maybe you come out and don’t execute the way you hoped. It’s all about maintaining your composure and getting back to the things you do well.”
Wood valiantly tried to pull off a “Jeremy Lin-esque” comeback. Wood launched a 3-pointer from four feet behind the line and ripped the twine. He then followed that with an off-balance pull-up jumper on the baseline, cutting the deficit to six, 33-27, with 2:45 to play.
But Reno’s Yuriy Ikovlev answered with five straight points, pushing the margin to double digits again with just over a minute left.
With 35 seconds left, Wood dropped in another NBA-range trey, making the scoreboard read 38-32 in favor of the High Desert League’s third seed. But it was too little, too late.
Wood scored 19 of the Grizzlies’ 32 points on the night.
Reno (14-12) must take on Hug Friday night at Spanish Springs. Tip-off for the semifinal is 5 p.m.