A.J. Pfaffenberger scored a career-high 28 points Wednesday night to help put playoff redemption within reach for the Douglas High boys basketball team.
Despite taking a four-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Tigers were not able to hold on as Reed rallied for a 60-57 victory in first-round play of the Division I Northern Region Tournament at Paul Kautz Gym in Sparks.
Douglas (13-11) was looking to turn the tables from a year ago, when the Tigers entered the postseason as the Sierra League’s No. 1 seed, only to lose at home in the first-round against No. 4 High Desert League seed McQueen, 60-59. On Wednesday, the No. 4 seed took No. 1 Reed right down to the wire.
“We gave ourselves a chance at the end and, you know, things go a different way, it’s just how it is,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “Hey, they’re a good team. They’re very athletic.”
Reed (22-6), the High Desert League champion, had its hands full from start to finish in a contest that hung in the balance until the final buzzer after came up with three defensive stops in the final 13.6 seconds. The Raiders will take a seven-game win streak into the region semifinals tonight at Spanish Springs High School.
“Survive and advance,” Reed coach Dustin Hall said. “Credit Douglas they came out and hit everything. Their kids played great and we knew it was going to be a fight.”
Pfaffenberger shot 5-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc and 9-for-16 from the field overall to account for his game-high 28 points.
“You have to be proud of him,” Thacker said of Pfaffenberger. “It’s his senior year. He’s our point guard. We ask our point guard to distribute the ball and tonight he did that plus he knocked down some shots, some huge shots. He was confident and ready to shoot.”
Douglas led 17-14 after one quarter and stretched the margin to as many as 11 points in the second quarter. Reed rallied to take the lead, however, Pfaffenberger hit a buzzer-beating shot from near NBA 3-point range to send the Tigers to the locker room with a 34-32 halftime lead.
Trailing by three, 60-57, with the 2.9 seconds left under Reed’s hoop, Thacker drew up a play for Pfaffenberger to tie the game. James Herrick hauled in a half-court pass and looked for Pfaffenberger, however, Reed senior Trae Wells knocked the ball from his hands and Pfaffenberger never got the game-tying look as time expired.
Douglas senior Pat Johnson also scored 11 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that cut Reed’s lead to 58-56, Austin Evans also scored 10, as he connected on three 3-pointers.
Herrick contributed 4 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Douglas made 9 of its 17 3-point shots as a team.
Junior point guard Jamel Ramos led Reed with 21 points, including three 3-pointers at the outset of the fourth quarter when the Raiders turned a 49-45 deficit into a 56-49 lead.
Wells and Alonzo Vega scored 15 points each for the Raiders.
Editor’s note: Nathan Shoup of the Daily Sparks Tribune contributed to this story.