Balanced Douglas boys reload for new season
November 27, 2013
WHAT: Douglas High School Alumni Game
WHERE: Randy Green Court
SCHEDULE: Alumni boys tournament, 1-3 p.m.; varsity girls scrimmage game vs. alumni, 3 p.m.; varsity boys intra-squad scrimmage, barbecue dinner afterward.
TICKETS: $5 for spectators at the gate, $5 for entry to the barbeque. Alumni pay $25 to participate in the games. Proceeds go to benefit the Douglas girls and boys programs.
No doubt, the Douglas High boys basketball team has some reloading to do as it prepares to enter the 2013-14 season.
Despite losing a nucleus of seniors who helped Douglas capture back-to-back Sierra League championships (19-7 overall, 15-1 league), coach Corey Thacker has not lowered his expectations one bit.
"We have a very different dynamic," said Thacker, whose Douglas teams have reached the region tournament finals four times in seven years (104-70 record). "We lost some good seniors who contributed a lot to our program and now it's just who is going to step in and fill those shoes and continue to do what we want to do as a program."
The most notable loss to graduation was two-time Northern Region Player of the Year Hunter Myers, who is now playing as a freshman at Harvard. This season, Thacker does expect to see more of a group effort.
Call it Team Tigers.
"With Hunter gone, it's a matter of who is going to fill in that role," he said. "But if we can distribute the ball, hey, I'm good with five to six people scoring eight to 10 points a night. I'll take that anytime."
Just don't ask Thacker to name his starting five — and that's part of the good news.
"We don't have a starting lineup yet," he said. "We have at least eight guys who are capable of starting."
Thacker saw some positive signs last Saturday when the Tigers faced some outside competition during a scrimmage hosted by Whittell that included Owyhee and ROP, as well as California schools Oroville, Truckee and Loyalton.
"We noticed over the weekend, these kids share the ball very well," the coach said. "There's not a selfish kid on the team, which really makes it nice, and we'll hopefully get some open shots because of it."
There is talent to help with the reloading process. And if the Tigers have a Player of the Year candidate waiting in the wings, that could be 6-foot-10 senior James Herrick, who figures to be one of the top post players in the North this season.
"Hopefully, we can have our guys live off what he does," Thacker said. "If he can take up some space in the middle and draw some people to him, we're hoping to use that to our advantage by getting open shots or getting open layups. We saw the progress last year and he worked hard in the offseason, so we're hoping he's going to build on that this year."
The supporting cast features talent in its own right. Seven players are back from last season: AJ Pfaffenberger, Austin Evans (6-5), Tay Simms, Patrick Johnson, Jaden Wass, Sam Broersma (6-4) and Herrick.
The Tigers will be on display for the community to watch Saturday during an intra-squad scrimmage scheduled to start at 4 p.m. as part of the annual alumni game festivities. That will serve as a tune-up for the regular season opener on Tuesday when the Tigers host Spanish Springs in what promises to be a formidable Northern Division I cross-over contest.
"Coach (Kyle) Penney does a good job," Thacker said of the Cougars. "It doesn't matter what kids he has, he always puts a good product out on the floor. Whatever they do, they're gonna do right."
Have there been any surprises so far during the preseason?
"I think the surprises are still coming," Thacker said. "These younger guys that are good surprises … Our two sophomores on the team (5-10 Michael Johnson and 6-4 Zach Kellar), they're just going to grow every day. But every day there is something new popping out. The kids are working really hard and making it fun for us to coach."