Austin Evans scored a game-high 22 points to help the Douglas High boys basketball team post a 61-51 win in its season-opener Wednesday night at home against Spanish Springs.
James Herrick converted back-to-back layups in the final minute of the third period to break a 39-39 tie and the Tigers shot 18-for-23 from the free throw line to close out the Northern Division I cross-over contest at Randy Green Court.
Despite the offensive highlights, however, it was the team’s defense that had coach Corey Thacker smiling afterward.
“We gave up 29 points in the first half — and Spanish Springs ran their offense pretty well — but you’ve got to chalk it up for our guys for holding them to 22 points in the second half,” Thacker said. “That’s what we need to do. We’ve got a lot of guys who want to score, but there are going to be nights when we’re not hot and we’ve got to be able to fall back on our defense.”
The two teams were even 29-29 at halftime, but Douglas came out strong after the intermission as Evans scored eight points.
“What I liked about that was our guys were getting the ball to him when he had the hot hand, and that’s a compliment to our whole squad,” Thacker said.
Spanish Springs came back to tie the score 39-39, however, Herrick’s two layups and a free throw by A.J. Pfaffenberger gave the Tigers a 44-39 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Spanish Springs kept it close down the stretch, however, Pat Johnson scored on a left-handed drive to extend the Tigers’ lead to 55-46 with 1:21 remaining and then dished off to Alex Tessmann for a layup to make it 57-50 with 40 seconds to go.
Herrick finished with 13 points, Pfaffenberger 9 and Johnson 8. Pfaffenberger and Evans both shot 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
Douglas shot 7-for-8 from the line and Herrick grabbed six rebounds in the final five minutes. Herrick finished the game with 17 rebounds.
“That was huge; 18-for-23 from the line, we’ll take that any day,” Thacker said.
Kenny Meyer scored 18 points and Jake Longero 14 to lead Spanish Springs.