By DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal News Service
MINDEN - Derek Lorenzen showed why he is the best player in Northern Nevada this year.
After a slow start, the talented 6-foot-4 junior guard scored 18 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, including five free throws in the final 24.6 seconds, to lead the Grizzlies to a 56-52 come-from-behind win over Douglas in the first round of the 4A zone playoffs Tuesday night.
"I thought if we could keep him around 20 I thought we would win," Douglas coach Keith Lewis said after the game. "What they do offensively is designed to get him the ball. He's got a hair trigger (release). I thought we gave him a few too many opportunities."
The win sends the Grizzlies to the semifinals Friday against High Desert round-robin champion Elko at Spanish Springs. The game time is still to be determined.
"I thought we showed great character," Galena coach Tom Maurer said. "That's why we take trips to places like Arizona and play nationally ranked teams. I thought tonight was a physical game, and I thought we stood up to that physicalness.
"We lost the tempo for a bit, but we got it back simply by Derek and Iain (Hill) shooting the ball. We also played pretty good defense late in the fourth quarter. This was a good win. This is a real tough place to play."
The loss was only the third on the Tigers' home floor this year. The other two were to Reno and Laguna Creek of Elk Grove, Calif. in the finals of the Carson Valley Classic.
The Grizzlies led throughout the game until the Tigers put together a 12-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to take a 46-42 lead, as Luke Rippee (13 points) hit two clutch three-point shots to lead the surge.
"We picked up the tempo, and made it more of an up and down game," said Lewis. "We played with more energy."
A putback by Bobby Contreras and two free throws by Hill (14 points) tied the game at 46 with 3:57 left.
Hill enjoyed a big night. He grabbed nine rebounds and did a nice job defending Douglas' 6-9 freshman Keith Olson and Chris Honer.
"We wanted to get him the ball," Maurer said. "I thought he did a good job. He showed great character."
"We didn't do a good job (on Hill)," Lewis said. "We let him catch the ball too easily at times with his back to the basket. He can go both ways (left and right) and that makes him tough to defend. I thought we did a better job in the second half."
After a Galena turnover, Douglas' Nick Summers (11 points) drove inside for a layup to re-take the lead for Douglas 48-46. Lorenzen got wide open off an inbounds play and drilled a three-pointer to make it 49-48. Douglas tuned the ball over, but got it right back when Olson blocked Hill's shot, and the officials called it a jump ball. The possession arrow favored the Tigers, and Olson (8 points, 12 rebounds) put Douglas ahead 50-49 with 2:14 left when he banked in a short field goal on the ensuing possession. Olson was fouled on the play, but failed to convert the free throw.
That was the end for Douglas. Rippee was pressured into a bad pass by the Galena defense. On the Tigers' next possession, Olson missed an outside jump shot, and Hill responded with a putback to give the Grizzlies the lead for good, 51-50. Honer misfired from the outside on Douglas' next possession, and the Tigers, needing to foul to get the ball back, fouled Lorenzen. The Grizzly standout hit both ends of the one-and-one to make it 53-50 with 24.6 left.
Olson scored on a quick layup to make it 53-52, but the Tigers fouled Lorenzen again, and he hit two more free throws with 10.1 left to make it 55-52. The Tigers had a chance to tie the game, but turned the ball over when Rippee tried to drive the middle and was swarmed by the Grizzlies.
"I'm not sure what we were trying to do," said a disappointed Lewis. "We were trying to run a set play, but it broke down right away. I thought Eric (Emm) might have been open on a kick out.
"I don't think I would have been confident (holding the ball with 1-point lead) because of their pressure defensively."
The tempo and the game belonged to Galena in the first half. The Grizzlies shot nearly 50 percent and pounded the offensive glass en route to a 28-21 lead. Only a three-pointer by Emm kept the lead from going to double digits at the half.
Lorenzen didn't get a lot of touches, but still managed to score 11 points. Between the first and second periods, Maurer implored his players to look for Lorenzen more. Lorenzen did score six straight at one point of the second quarter to give the Grizzlies a 25-18 lead.
"We didn't play well," Lewis said. "We didn't rebound very well and we didn't defend well."
The Grizzlies maintained a five or six-point bulge until the fourth quarter when Douglas surged ahead, setting the stage for heroics by Lorenzen, who scored eight of Galena's last 10 points.