The Douglas boys basketball team closed out one of the toughest portions of its schedule Monday night, finishing its fifth game in seven days with a hard-fought 71-67 win at Reno High School.
"We just gritted it out," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. "They beat us in every quarter except the third and they outscored us 27-26 in the fourth.
"It's a compliment to everyone for doing a great job in the third, because they made it stick."
Indeed, Douglas went into halftime trailing by three, but roared back to take a five point lead heading into the final quarter.
"They played a zone defense on us all night, and like a lot of teams are going to do, they focused on double-teaming (all-state forward) Hunter (Myers) inside. I thought we did a good job of attacking the zone. Once we realized that if we let them double Hunter, everyone else would have chances to score, things started working better."
Thacker specifically noted the play of point guard Joe Syammach, who finished with 14 points (4-of-4 from the line and 10 inside the paint), along with guards Michael Nolting and Pat Johnson.
"Joe just had a great game," Thacker said. "All those guys, not even so much what they did scoring-wise, but what they were able to do away from the ball -- What they did to release the pressure off of Hunter and get us some extra scores."
Myers finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds in addition to eight shot blocks.
Douglas opened the fourth quarter with four players at four fouls apiece, including Myers, Syammach, Austin Evans and Sam Broersma.
"We had a lot of guys step up and keep us in it. It was good to see."
Douglas was coming off the prestigious Wild West Shootout last week, during which it lost a close game to Arizona powerhouse Mountain View and stuck with defending state champion Bishop Gorman through three quarters before the Gaels pulled away late. The Gorman loss pushed Douglas to a four-game losing streak, it's longest since the 2008-09 season.
The Tigers bounced back to grab a close win at Manogue on Saturday, though, and then pulled away with the win at Reno.
"Coming out of that stretch with two wins was huge for us," Thacker said. "Our team has grown a lot and learned a lot about each other over the last seven days.
"The important thing, even through the losses, was that they were sticking to the system. They lost on Tuesday (to Galena) and then went into the next game with the mindset of just trying to get better. We played well against Mountain View and then had a great game against Gorman. They put it all out there and really had three pretty good games in the tournament.
"Saturday we just found a way to win. We were tired and it just said a lot about their character to come out and play well in tough circumstances."
Against Manogue, Douglas snapped its four-game slide with a 47-43 win in the Miners' home gym.
The game was part of the Wild West Shootout and did not count toward Sierra League standings.
Myers led the Tigers with 19 points and two 3-pointers. Nolting and Evans each had seven, Pat Johnson had five, Syammach had four, Jaden Wass had three and James Herrick had two.
Douglas carried a slim two-point lead into halftime, but outscored the Miners 18-8 in the third. Manogue slowly chipped away at the lead in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tiers 14-6, but Douglas managed to hold on for the win.
Douglas won't play again until after Christmas at the Under Armour Holiday Classic in San Diego (Dec. 26-29). The team will get the week to practice and prepare for semester finals.
Douglas opens the tournament Dec. 26 against Thunderbird, Ariz., at 5:55 p.m.
"I think the kids are starting to understand that if they stick together, they can do some special things," Thacker said. "They're starting to play as a team. These tournaments are a great way to come together and build that chemistry you need for the league push in January and February."
Douglas managed to get through the first quarter against perennial powerhouse Reno with an 8-7 lead on the road, but the Huskies came back strong to claim a 70-29 win Monday night.
The Huskies outscored Douglas 45-16 through the middle quarters, including a 23-4 stretch in the second quarter.
Reno's 6-foot, 4-inch freshman Mallory McGwire led all scorers with 19 points.