One of those tough early-season games was Wednesday night in the first round of the Railroaders’ annual Rail City Classic. Sparks was handed a 70-47 shellacking by Galena in the tournament tilt.
The game was tied at 5-5 midway through the inital period, but Galena scored the next eight points, a mini run that was capped by back-to-back breakaway dunks by Kirk Gunderson.
Sparks closed to within five, 17-12, after a Keiffer Putman bucket with just under a minute to go in the first.
And then the game got ugly.
Galena scored 18 of the next 20 points and wound up taking a 38-16 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
The Grizzlies didn’t let up. After Sparks scored the first two points of the second half, on a pair of Bobby Brown free throws, Galena ripped off 10 more unanswered points. That burst was concluded when Caleb Wood buried a 3-pointer from the corner, extending Galena’s lead to a game-high 30 points, 48-18.
Sparks showed a little fight to close out the third period, thanks in large part to the hot hand of Putman. He scored 10 points to key a 15-2 SHS burst that wrapped up the third period.
That run helped Sparks get to within 16, 52-36, heading into the final quarter. That’s as good as it got for the hosts. Galena outscored Sparks 18-11 in the final period and pulled away.
“I thought we started the game OK; and then in middle part of it, we lost our composure,” Sparks coach Dan Schreiber said. “Galena has more size and a deeper bench. I told the kids this is a game we must keep our composure and do the little things. In the middle of the game, we didn’t do those little things and the game got away from us.”
Putman drained four treys and scored 20 points to lead Sparks while Brown added 13 in a losing cause.
Max Harrison scored 17 points, Wood 14 and Gunderson chipped in 12 to lead Galena.
“Galena did a good job exploiting us at our weakest point and that’s post defense,” Schreiber said. “We’ll see some big teams on down the road. So we have to see that stuff. I’d rather see it now than later so we can spend time working on it.”
Sparks (3-4) plays again today at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. during second-round action of the four-day event.