The Douglas boys basketball team found itself staring down its longest losing streak (four games) in four seasons just three weeks into the year.
Replacing 80 percent of its starting lineup for the third-consecutive season appeared as though it might finally push the Tigers into a rebuilding period for the first time since that previous four-game slide.
The losing streak was somewhat deceiving, though.
The Tigers fell to Division I -A power Elko, league rival Galena, Arizona juggernaut Mountain View and defending Nevada state champ Bishop Gorman in the span of seven days.
It was a week-long gut check for the Tigers that effectively ended the rebuilding mode nearly as quick as it started.
Douglas bounced back to go 16-3 to close out the season, including a 13-game win streak spanning from the end of December to the end of the regular season in February. It represented the longest stretch of consecutive victories the program has put together since winning the 2A state championship in 1978-79.
Along the way, the Tigers claimed their second-consecutive Sierra League title and took care of business in the classroom, claiming the academic state title with a team GPA of 3.59.
Douglas entered the year coming off its second-consecutive regional final appearance and second state berth in five years.
The Tigers had to replace four starters from that campaign, though, and had to do so pulling from a roster that included seven first-year varsity players.
After opening up 2-4, though, the learning curve proved to be exceptionally quick.
Douglas bounced back to defeat Manogue and Reno on the road to complete a six-game-in-nine-day stretch. They then headed down for the prestigious Under Armor Classic in San Diego following Christmas and posted a respectable 2-2 record there.
It was the tournament-ending 54-49 win over Paraclete, Calif., though, that set the tone for the remainder of the season.
Douglas came back the following week and defeated upstart Reed in overtime, 75-67, to kick off the final stretch of league play.
From there, the Tigers wouldn't lose again, until a charging McQueen squad upended then in the first round of the playoffs.
In between, Douglas avenged the loss to Galena in convincing fashion, and scored a last-minute victory over eventual regional champion Hug.
Douglas defeated every Northern Division I team during the course of the season, averaging 66.5 points per game.
The scoring output was made more impressive by the fact that leading scorer Hunter Myers, the Northern Division Co-Player of the Year, accounted for 27 percent of the team's scoring and the Tiger bench accounted for 32 percent of the team's scoring, meaning Douglas was able to effectively spread the ball both around the floor and across the scoresheet all season.
While Douglas returns a number of integral pieces, including 6-10 center James Herrick, sharp-shooters Austin Evans and Pat Johnson, and point guard AJ Pfaffenberger, the Tigers again will have to bid farewell to a large senior class.
Five seniors will be gone, including two starters. Myers departs after dominating the region for the better part of the last four seasons.
The returning group though, could be as formidable a core as anyone else in the North will have.
Hug and Galena, the other two elite programs in the north, both graduate their leading scorers and large chunks of their starting lineups.
Herrick came along strong, particularly in the second half of the year, and will be one of the top one or two post players in the region next season.
Evans and Johnson combined to hit more than 70 3-pointers this year and Pfaffenberger started to come into his own running the offense off the bench during his first varsity season.
Spanish Springs, Reno, Carson, Manogue and Damonte Ranch all return solid cores as well, setting up a highly-competitive race for next season.
Joey Crandall can be reached at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.
DOUGLAS BOYS BASKETBALL
Finish: Northern 4A Regional Quarterfinalist. Sierra League champions.
Record: 19-7 overall, 15-1 Sierra League, 8-1 home, 8-2 away, 3-4 neutral, 16-3 vs. Northern Nevada teams.
MVP: Hunter Myers, sr., C/F. The two-time Northern 4A Player of the Year's numbers stand on their own. His performance in the classroom and his contribution back to the basketball community simply set him at another level.
Unsung hero: Joe Syammach, sr., G. Syammach developed into a back-breaker of sorts as the year progressed. As Douglas' sixth man, he found ways to the net when it mattered and quietly helped deliver key wins against Hug, Galena, Reed and Damonte Ranch.
Most Improved: James Herrick, jr., C. Herrick found his stride midway through the season and huge games late in the year against Galena and McQueen. He'll enter next year as one of the top post players in the state.
Best game: Douglas 51, Hug 49, Jan. 11 at Douglas. The Tigers absorbed a huge first quarter from Hug and benefitted from a series of late misses on the Hawks' side to claim the win over the eventual regional champs.
Starters lost: 3
Returners: 2 starters, 7 lettermen