It would appear that after two "rebuilding" years, the Douglas High School girls' basketball program is once again set to contend.
Douglas strung together wins in five of its last six games this season, gave eventual regional runner-up Manogue all it could handle for three quarters and qualified for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.
Add to it that all of the Tigers' starters are expected to return, and that three of those were only sophomores this season and things start looking pretty bright.
"It was just a lot of fun coaching this team," coach Werner Christen said. "We had fun every day, we laughed every day and we worked hard every day.
"This team really appreciated each other and enjoyed being around each other."
While the Tigers will lose two of its top bench players in senior post player Dana Pardee and senior shooting guard Kaela Horse, they will still return 12 players, nine of which will be seniors next season. Six of those seniors will be entering their third year in the program.
"We certainly like the direction we're heading," Christen said. "We have some great people on the team. Not just great players, but great people."
Douglas opened the year with an extremely tough stretch that included seven games against teams ranked in the Sierra Nevada Sports Media Poll in their first 10 outings. The other three were against California powerhouse Clovis West, Lassen and defending Northern 2A Regional champion Whittell.
The Tigers went 4-6 through that stretch, with their biggest win coming in an 81-37 romp over Whittell. After that, they again won four of their next 10 before suffering a crippling loss to a much-improved Hug team on the road.
Douglas managed to recover with a 61-29 win over Wooster and after consecutive set-backs against Carson and Elko, the Tigers rolled into the playoffs with their decisive final stretch.
There they met Manogue, a team that came on strong enough late in the year to claim the No. 2 seed out of the High Desert League.
The Tigers matched up with the Miners pretty well until the final quarter, when Manogue ran off a series of breakaway baskets to take the win.
"It was the fourth quarter from heck," Christen said. "I thought it would a four- or five-pointer one way or the other, but their guards just did a better job attacking. They were good, and we knew they'd be good going in, but I really thought it would be closer than it ended up being."
The Miners followed up the 59-36 win with an upset over No. 2 Reno before losing to Reed in the regional championship game.
Christen said he plans on taking the team to a number of offseason weekend tournaments and running several workouts a week during the summer.
"Summer league is a lot of fun," he said. "It's not mandatory. "It's just a matter of getting the kids into the gym to get to know each other better."
-- Joey Crandall can be reached at email@example.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.