A layup off the opening tip on Friday night gave the undefeated Douglas High girls basketball team a lead it never relinquished en route to a 46-19 Sierra League victory against Galena.
Katie McCullough scored a game-high 12 points and dished out three straight assists to start the game as Douglas surged to an early 9-0 lead at Randy Green Court. Leonna Mortimer also scored 11 points for the Tigers, who coupled with a 48-40 win at South Tahoe on Saturday, improved their overall record to 8-0 (3-0 in league).
Once again, however, offense starts with defense for a team that has allowed an average 29.1 points through eight games. In this case, the Tigers never allowed more than 6 points in any single quarter.
“That’s always our goal, to hold a team to single digits in a quarter,” said senior forward Kassidy Freitas. “It’s just a matter of moving your feet and beating them to the spot.”
Freitas drew the primary assignment of defending Kaitlyn Hawthorne, who earned all-league and all-region honors last season. Hawthorne finished her night with 5 points.
“She’s our stopper,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said of Freitas. “We always assign her to the other team’s top scorer.”
This is, nonetheless, much more than a one-person effort.
“We’re supposed to play as a unit,” Freitas said. “It’s not one person, it’s pressure from one side and support from the other.”
Douglas scored off the opening tip when McCullough fed McKenna Kynett for a layup. Kynett banked in a shot off the glass, again assisted by McCullough, and then McCullough assisted Corryne Millett on a layup to make it 6-0. Mortimer converted the second of two free throws and Jessie Jim put in a shot over two defenders from the paint to complete the 9-0 run.
The Tigers led 15-6 at the end of the first quarter and Jim’s 3-pointer from the left corner early in the second period extended the margin to 20-6. The Tigers took a 30-9 lead to the locker room at halftime.
There was no letup after the intermission, either. Kynett and Millett fed McCullough for back-to-back layups at the outset of the third period and McCullough snapped a pass through the Galena defense as Mortimer broke free underneath the basket for yet another layup to push the lead to 36-11.
“We had a lot of layups,” Christen said, noting the Tigers had 12 assists as a team. “That’s just the kids doing a good job of seeing the court and moving without the ball.”
Nor was there any rest for the Grizzlies at the other end of the court. Even an apparent breakaway was cut off when McCullough hustled downcourt to disrupt the layup attempt. The result was a travel call.
“She never gave up on that play,” Christen said. “She created an angle and just did a great job of cutting off the weakside pass.”
McCullough wound up with 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the game. Millett and Mortimer had 7 rebounds each and Jim finished with 4 assists.
The winning performance was significant on a week when students were busy with final exams in the classroom, Christen pointed. There is, nevertheless, still plenty of room for improvement.
“This was finals week, which is always tough. You never know what you’re going to get,” Christen said. “We were a little sloppy at times with our passing and even with our defense. But the kids did a good job of flying around and putting together some good streaks.”
DOUGLAS 48, SOUTH TAHOE 40
Douglas broke out of a back-and-forth game in the final five minutes Saturday to win at South Tahoe (2-3 overall, 1-1 Northern I-A league).
The score was deadlocked at 33-all after three quarters and South Tahoe led by one point with five minutes to go before the Tigers took control.
“We did some good things late defensively,” Christen said. “I think they scored one bucket in the last five minutes, so we got some stops and we did a good job rebounding.”
Jim led all scorers for Douglas with 13 points, including a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Millett also scored 11 for the Tigers.
Jordyn Dion scored 11 points to lead the Vikings, who were coming off a 31-30 overtime win against Lowry at home the night before.
“Give them credit,” Christen said of the Vikings. “Mike (Neiger, South Tahoe coach) had them ready to play. If they continue to play like that, they’re going to win some games.”
Douglas opens on Friday with two games against Southern California opponents at Centennial’s Las Vegas Holiday Classic. The Tigers play at 10:20 a.m. against El Segundo, Calif. (5-3) and then at 6:20 p.m. against Culver City (6-2). On Saturday, the Tigers are scheduled to play Centennial.