With a shot at the playoffs hanging in the balance Friday night, the Douglas Tigers responded in a big way.
Senior guard A.J. Pfaffenberger scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half to help provide a spark as Douglas rallied for a 62-57 playoff-clinching victory against Bishop Manogue at Randy Green Court.
Douglas (12-9 overall, 8-6 league) remained tied for third-place and moved to within one game of second-place in the Sierra League coming into a critical game Tuesday night at Damonte Ranch (Update: Douglas lost, 58-47).
A 19-11 run through the third quarter put the Tigers in control against Manogue. The pivotal point of the game came in the first and second quarters when Manogue (9-11, 6-8) led by as many as 9 points.
The Miners, who were one game behind Douglas and Carson in the league standings to start the night, were fighting for their playoff lives and riding a wave of momentum as they surged to leads of 16-7 in the first quarter, then 21-14 and 24-17 in the second quarter.
James Sandoval knocked down a 3-pointer to put Manogue on top 16-7 with 2:07 left in the first quarter. The Miners had an opportunity to extend the lead after Remy Dillard grabbed a defensive rebound. Instead, Pfaffenberger slapped the ball away and Michael Johnson gathered in the loose ball on the defensive end, then Pfaffenberger drove for a layup. Another steal moments later led to Pfaffenberger’s 3-pointer from the top of the key, then Alex Tessmann’s pass to Sam Broersma for a layup cut Manogue’s lead to 16-14 as the quarter ended.
Manogue went up 21-14 in the opening minute of the second period when Sandoval connected on a 3-pointer, assisted by Zachary Wurm. The 3-pointer was Manogue’s fifth of the first half.
Michael Johnson answered with a 3-pointer from the right corner, assisted by Austin Evans. Then midway through the period, Pfaffenberger scored on an acrobatic drive and then hit a 3-pointer, assisted by Tessmann, to cut Manogue’s lead to 24-22. Herrick scored 6 points in the final three minutes before halftime, capped by two free throws with 1.7 seconds showing on the clock to tie the score 30-all.
Herrick and Pfaffenberger scored 16 points each, while Evans added 13 for the Tigers, who ended a two-game losing streak. Tessmann contributed 5 assists and 4 steals. Herrick also pulled down 11 rebounds and Douglas outrebounded Manogue overall, 31-21.
Manogue’s Dillard led all scorers with 24 points, including 4-for-6 on his 3-point attempts. Sandoval scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers. As a team, the Miners shot 9-for-28 from 3-point range and 12-for-28 on 2-point attempts.
Note: Douglas hosts Carson Friday in a 7 p.m. game that could decide second-place, and home berth for the first round of the playoffs next week. Jeff Evans, Douglas athletic director, advises fans to show up early Friday to avoid the possibility of being turned away at the door should the gym fill to capacity.