Austin Evans, Pat Johnson and A.J. Pfaffenberger made their last home game at Douglas a memorable experience.
Evans and Johnson scored 12 each and Pfaffenberger added 10, and all three made big plays in the fourth quarter Friday night to help the Tigers end the regular season with a 52-44 win over Carson before a capacity crowd.
Douglas (13-10 overall) and Carson (10-10) ended up tied for third place in the Sierra League at 9-7. The Senators were awarded the No. 3 seed by a 45.5-44 point margin in the universal tie-breaker system employed by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. Douglas, as the No. 4 seed visits High Desert champion Reed at 7 p.m. tonight.
Douglas coach Corey Thacker was especially impressed by the way his team built up a 40-21 lead early in the fourth period thanks to a 12-2 run, and then made enough plays down the stretch to overcome a late 13-0 run by the Senators.
It was a stellar combination of good defense, good ball movement and pinpoint shooting.
“We did a good job of executing which produced good shots,” Thacker said. “We executed and made the shots. We had a couple of transition baskets in there. Austin had one and A.J. had one right in the middle of that run.”
Douglas entered the final quarter with a 28-19, but that grew to 40-21 when Evans knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:33 remaining to cap that 12-2 run.
James Herrick, the Tigers’ 6-foot-10 senior center, started the surge when he took a high pass inside from Alex Tessmann, dropped the ball in and converted the ensuing free throw. Cameron Price (13 points) answered back to make it 31-21. Johnson hit a trey, assisted by Pfaffenberger, and after Carson failed to convert its next two possessions, Pfaffenberger took a pass from Tessmann and dropped in a 3-pointer to make it 37-21 with 6:30 left to play.
Then the momentum began to turn as the Senators began to play a swarming, trapping defense.
Price made a single free throw to start the surge, and after a Douglas turnover, Price scored again to make it 40-24. Kyle Steele made a free throw after another Tiger turnover, and after Herrick missed a layup, Austin Shaffer scored on a putback to make it 40-27. On the next possession, Shaffer drained a 3-pointer to make it 40-30. Douglas turned the ball over again, and Price made two free throws to get the lead to single digits, 40-32. Douglas lost the ball on its next possession and Steele made a pull-up jump shot to cap the 3-minute flurry.
“We started pressuring and flying around,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “Sometimes when you get ahead you can get complacent. We were trying to pressure and we hit some shots and got back in the game.”
“They started attacking and throwing up shots,” Thacker said. “They picked up the tempo. In the first half, they wanted to go slow.”
Douglas regained control, though, as Johnson hit a big trey from the right wing, assisted by Pfaffenberger. Douglas shot 6-for-12 on its 3-pointers for the night.
Moments later, Herrick grabbed a rebound on the defensive end, then Evans came down for a three-point play to make it 46-34 with 2:06 left.
A bucket by Kyle Steele and a trey by Asa Carter made it 47-39, but Herrick and Tay Simms sank one free throw each to make it a 10-point game with 42.8 left. Baskets by Dilyn Rooker and Steele cut it to 50-44, but Herrick made two free throws with 7.1 to end it.
“We played hard until the end,” Mendeguia said. “We could have quit, but we hung in there and cut it to six at one point.”
Herrick had 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots for the Tigers. Pfaffenberger also contributed 4 assists.