North puts two in state semifinals |

North puts two in state semifinals

Mike Traum

RENO – For the first time since 1987, two Northern boys teams will meet in the semifinals of the NIAA/US Bank AAAA state playoffs.

Both Galena and Sparks beat capable Las Vegas area teams on Thursday night, guaranteeing a North competitor will be in the finals. Not since South Tahoe bested Hug in the 1987 state semifinals has the North had so much success at the state level.

“I’m real happy for the North. This year we’re on the cutting edge. But it really doesn’t matter unless we win it all,” said Galena coach Tom Maurer.

Galena 55, Las Vegas 48 at Lawlor Events Center

After a scoreless first quarter, Galena’s Lance Buoncristiani caught fire hitting three three-pointers in the second quarter and two more in the fourth en route to a game-high 25 points. After being outscored 16-6 in the first, the Grizzlies, in their first-ever state tournament, battled back with 18 points in the second to exit the half down just one.

“I pulled Lance aside today at school and said, ‘You’re a big part of what got us here, now let’s continue the run,'” Maurer said.

Added Buoncristiani, “We knew we had to keep the game close. I just wanted to get my teammates, the crowd and myself into the game.”

The Grizzlies took the lead for good with 5:31 remaining and put it away by nailing key free throws down the stretch.

Galena big man Matt Siebrandt added 13 points and Brian Vaka had eight. The Grizzlies were 11 for 11 from the line. Las Vegas’ Corey Kauffman had 14 points and Lucas LeCour added 10.

Sparks 61, Durango 51 at Reed High

The Railroaders overcame a 10-point deficit in the second quarter to beat the two-time defending champs and get their first state win since 1973.

“We had a run to take the lead at the end of the half that really gave our kids belief that we could win the game,” said Sparks coach Dick Lee. “It’s great for our school. We’re finally getting some basketball respect.”

The Railroaders went up by eight in the third quarter before going down by three with 3:30 to play.

Sparks’ Josh Devine had a game-high 20 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. La’Marr Speights added 15 and Paul Moss had 11.

Durango point guard Thomas McTyer finished with 17. Tyler Kidd added 12.

Valley 65, McQueen 49

The Lancers were as close as two points in the third quarter before Valley pulled away. The Viking outscored McQueen 16-8 in the final frame.

Jevon Banks had 19 points, including the only three-pointer, for Valley while LaRontae Johnson added 17, Alex Hernandez 14 and Jason Juniel 12.

Ronnie Cansler collected a team-high 13 points for the Lancers while Matt Long netted 10.

Ross Maak and Stephanie Auspgen of the Nevada Appeal contributed to this story.

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