Even though the Douglas boys' basketball team ended up on the short end of the scoreboard in a 67-53 loss to Merced Friday night, the Tigers showed plenty of signs of improvement.
For a team that has been taking the first month of the season as one big learning experience, that's a good thing.
"We keep talking about each game being a learning experience and Merced is a great opponent to learn against," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. "They are a great team, they have a lot of athletes. It's a great team for us as a young squad to learn against."
One of the most notable improvements Thursday was the Tigers' outside shooting. Douglas knocked down eight 3-pointers as a team as four different guards connected from outside.
"A big part of that was we were sharing the ball," Thacker said. "We were attacking, kicking it out, getting it to our post and letting them swing it to the outside.
"That's exactly what we're looking for, just to move the ball and get guys the opportunity. We have guys that can knock it down when they get the chance, it's a just a matter of getting them there. One pass and a shot isn't going to cut it in league play."
Douglas got scoring from eight different players in the game and all 13 players that were suited up got on the floor.
Junior CJ Marcotte led the way with 13 points and three 3-pointers, point guards Tim Rudnick and Luis Pina-Duarte each had eight points and sophomore Austin Neddenriep had seven . Pina-Duarte drained a pair of 3-pointers, as did sophomore Chris Downs who finished with six points, and Rudnick had one 3-pointer.
Cale Pete and Parker Robertson each scored four and Nick Hales had three to round out the scoring.
"We did a great job on offense and we got great movement by everyone," Thacker said. "We're not going to have a guy score 25 or 30 points every single night. It's going to be about how well we can spread the ball around this year."
Merced got off to a quick start in the game, opening on a 10-1 run but Pina-Duarte and Rudnick each hit 3-pointers after a Douglas timeout to help the Tigers outscore the Bears 13-6 through the remainder of the quarter.
The run cut the score to 16-14 in favor of Merced but Douglas wouldn't get any closer in the game. The Bears had a 9-2 run to open the second and later used an 8-0 run to break the game open.
Douglas closed it back down to 32-29 on an 8-2 run that included 3-pointers from Marcotte and Downs sandwiched around a Pete basket, but a foul on Merced's Allan Huddleston at the buzzer allowed a pair of free throws to make it 36-29.
Huddleston led all scorers with 28 points.
The Tigers kept it close through the first part of the second half, but Merced knocked down three 3-pointers over a two-minute stretch to essentially put the game out of reach.
Douglas (2-5) will meet Faith Lutheran in the Carson Valley Classic third-place game Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
"Faith Lutheran is another great team," Thacker said. "They put up 91 points against Manogue. We are going to have to come up with some big defensive plays and get the ball inside on them."
Merced advanced to the tournament title game against Manogue at 4 p.m. Manogue hit 10 3-pointers in a 100-91 win Friday.
In other action, Dayton beat North Valleys 60-50 and Fallon beat Fernley 47-21.