Two problems faced the Douglas High girls basketball team Tuesday night against Spanish Springs in the first round of the Division I Northern Region Tournament.
First, was trying to solve a 2-3 zone defense Spanish Springs employed in an attempt to cut off inside lanes to the basket. Second, was trying to contain the Cougars’ point guard, Hannah Woytek.
The Tigers were not consistent in either case and the result was a 43-40 defeat at the hands of Spanish Springs in what amounted to a defensive struggle at Randy Green Court.
Woytek scored 22 points as Spanish Springs (19-7) rallied to knock off Douglas (19-9) in a game much different from the Dec. 4 season opener, when the Tigers won 47-20 on the same court.
Coach Werner Christen knew the rematch would be a difficult challenge.
“I knew it would be; we told the kids that before the game. ” Christen said. “But we also told them, if we played well, we would win, and we did not play well. We didn’t get the shots we wanted, and when we did, we missed too many easy shots ... we didn’t make our free throws ... and we really didn’t play well defensively, especially in the second half.”
Then again, the Cougars have come a long way since the start of the season, according to first-year coach Art Cardenas.
“That’s so long ago, we’ve already forgotten that game,” Cardenas said. “We’ve made a few adjustments since then.”
“We got better,” Woytek added. “We started to click and we bought into the new offense and defense. This was a big win tonight … a very emotional game.”
Douglas led throughout the first half, but the scores were only 6-2 at the end of one quarter and 13-9 at the intermission. Despite being held to single-digit scoring, the Cougars were still right in the game.
“That’s what we told them at halftime ... we’re right where we want to be.’” Cardenas said.
Woytek, who scored 15 points after the intermission, ignited a run early in the fourth quarter to erase the Tigers’ 31-26 advantage. The 5-foot-4 senior knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the score at 31, and Spanish Springs got the ball right back when a foul was called after the shot. Moments later, Woytek connected on a 2-pointer from the left corner, assisted by Mariah Vargas. Then Woytek dished to Katrina Prendergast for a layup, giving the Cougars seven points within a span of 27 seconds for a 35-31 lead with 6:24 left to play.
The Tigers never led again, although they did tie the score at 39 when Jessie Jim took a pass from McKenna Kynett and buried a 3-pointer from the right wing with 2:35 remaining.
Katie McCullough came up with a takeaway on the defensive end to give Douglas a chance to regain the lead, however, they turned the ball over on a backcourt violation.
“We had too many turnovers (20) … turnovers that were uncharacteristic for us,” Christen said.
This one turned out to be critical, as Vargas threw a long pass downcourt to Woytek, who took the ball to the basket for a layup to put the Cougars on top 41-39 with 1:51 remaining. Vargas threaded a pass through the defense to Adrianna Pennington for a layup to account for the final 43-40 score.
Jim finished with a double-double for Douglas, as the senior guard scored 15 points (two 3-pointers) and pulled down 10 rebounds. Leonna Mortimer also had 9 points and 10 rebounds. Kelly Sonnemann also contributed 7 points, including a 3-pointer to give Douglas an early 3-0 lead. The Tigers only shot 5-for-14 from the free throw line, but then again, Spanish Springs only shot 1-for-7 from the line.
The Tigers converted four 3-pointers on the night, however, Christen didn’t see that as a positive statistic.
“We didn’t do a good job of attacking their zone,” he said. “They did a good job with that 2-3, it was a good decision on their part to use it. We just didn’t get the shots we wanted. We shot 10 3’s in the first half — we were 2-for-10 — and that’s just not our game.”