Depending on whom you asked, there were two key differences in Tuesday night's early-season matchup between expected powers Douglas and Galena. But they really were the same.
"They got us in transition. It's plain and simple. That's simple basketball. We didn't get back. They outran us," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said after Galena scored 44 points in the second half for a 68-56 win at home.
"We got stops," Galena coach Brian Voyles said. "In order to come from behind, you have to get stops."
Thacker is right. Voyles is right.
The Grizzlies could not have capitalized in transition if not for the work they put in on defense. And they really capitalized on the fast break in the second half.
Galena (3-0, 3-0 Sierra) scored 15 of 18 points in transition during a seven-minute period spanning the third and fourth quarters when it turned a four-point deficit into a four-point lead.
Not coincidentally, the Grizzlies held Douglas (3-2, 2-1) without a field goal for six minutes of that run.
"It all starts with defense," Galena guard Max Erickson said. "We have to get those stops. If we can't get the stops, we can't run."
Playing at a faster pace is a goal for Galena in its first season under Voyles. But not to the detriment of its defense.
"To (run) you have to get stops," Voyles said. "We're not sacrificing a bucket to go get a 3. We're trying to get the containment, the contest, the box out and then we can run."
Kirk Gunderson led the Grizzlies with 18 points, while Erickson had 13 and Caleb Wood added 12. Wood's 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play put Galena up 59-52 and sealed the second straight loss for the Tigers, the preseason No. 1 team.
"It's a league game, and they did a good job of defending their turf," Thacker said. "We came in with a three-point lead at halftime, and they end up beating us by 12."
The Galena outburst was in stark contrast to the first half, when the Grizzlies committed 15 turnovers, were 1-for-10 at the free-throw line and did not score for the first 3:45 of the game.
"We're an old team of seniors. We just calmed down and knew we could do it," Erickson said.
Hunter Myers scored 22 points for Douglas, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Myers often was double-teamed before he had the ball late in the fourth.
Pat Johnson, who finished with 14 points, was the only other Tigers player to score in the final period.
"There wasn't an offensive flow. We were standing and watching," Thacker said. "That's inexperience, and we're learning. In our two losses, we're standing and watching, and in our wins, we're moving."