There is no question that the Douglas High girls' basketball is inexperienced. With the way things have gone lately, though, that's an attribute that simply may not last long.
For the third time in as many games, the Lady Tigers had a contest come down to the last shot. And, for the third time in as many games, the Tigers came up on the wrong end of it. Galena picked up a 44-41 win, boosted by a late 6-0 run, to spoil the Lady Tigers' home opener and drop Douglas to 0-2 in Sierra League play Thursday night in Minden.
"This is the story of our season so far," Douglas coach Werner Christen said with a laugh. "We've had a couple tight ones in a row. We talked before the game about finding a way to make a play down the stretch. We haven't been able to do that yet.
"We're a really inexperienced team and there are times when it shows a little bit. A lot of kids have never been involved in a late-game situation and tonight we had some turnovers that were kind of indicative of that."
Still, there appears to be plenty of hope for the Tigers.
Douglas fought back from a nine-point deficit in the first half to close within two and later came back from 12 down to take a three-point lead heading into the final five minutes of the game.
"We were down by quite a bit there in the second half," Christen said. "We could have just cashed in the chips there, but they kept battling."
Galena quickly tied things back up at 33 with a 3-pointer from Haley Jensen and the two teams exchanged leads twice before Galena went on a 6-0 run over a two-minute stretch that proved to be the difference in the game. The Grizzlies forced a key turnover and then used an effective delay offense to run the clock under a minute with a 41-37 lead.
Ally Freitas, who finished with 11 points for the Tigers, scored a basket and hit a pair of free throws in the final minute, but the Grizzlies converted three of four free throws down the stretch to preserve the lead and the win.
"Bottom line was Galena is a good team, their experience showed tonight and they got the job done," Christen said.
Early on, it appeared as though Galena might simply run away with the game.
Both teams struggled to get going through nearly four minutes to start, but Galena's Emily Burns put the game's first nine points on the board before Douglas Taryn Williams hit a jumper outside the key six minutes in.
Burns, who led all scorers in the game with 23 points, scored 16 of Galena's first 17 points. Haley Jensen hit a 3-pointer with just under three minutes left in the first half to extend Galena's lead to 20-12.
A pair of free throws from Kristen Agaman to open the third quarter gave Galena a 24-12 lead, but Douglas clamped down on its full court press defense and ended an eight-minute scoring drought with a quick 10-2 run in just under two minutes.
Megan Michitarian, Freitas, Jessica Waggoner and Taryn Williams each contributed points during the run, while Susie White came up with a couple of big defensive plays to prolong the run.
"The kids wanted to keep pressing and they made some good things happen," Christen said. "We had a lot of deflections tonight."
After a Galena timeout, Douglas extended the run to an impressive 21-4 through the beginning of the fourth quarter as a 3-pointer from Williams put the Tigers up 33-30. Williams ended up leading the Tigers with 12 points and two 3-pointers.
"Tonight was the best we have shot the ball so far this season," Christen said. "Our problem was we weren't looking to shoot earlier in the year. We got so busy running the motion and looking for layups that we're missed some good opportunities from outside.
"We talked about it heading into the game, we wrote it on the board as something we wanted to work on and we ended up taking the most shots from outside the key all year by far."
Douglas (3-5, 0-2) got 11 points each from Freitas and Waggoner while Jackie Harper added three and White and Maci Pfaffenberger each added two.
The Tigers travel to Lowry Friday night and will play in Las Vegas toward the end of next week.