Girls' Basketball: Lady Tigers take state academic championship

As the clock dwindled down to zero during last week's regional playoff loss to Spanish Springs, it appeared that the Douglas High girls' basketball team had lost its shot at any postseason hardware.

The next morning, they discovered they'd won a state championship.

Douglas was named the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association 4A academic state champions " an award given annually to the team with the highest average grade point average in the state.

The Lady Tigers will accept their award tonight during halftime of the 4A girls' state championship game. That game tips off at 6 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

"I thought we might have had a shot at the academic title when (Douglas High athletic secretary) Cathy Rahe gave me their GPAs the other day," Douglas coach Werner Christen said.

Douglas averaged a 3.7 GPA as a team, a number made more impressive by the fact that the Lady Tigers kept 15 players on their roster this season, which is above the average size around the region.

"Teams with bigger rosters don't usually win this award," Christen said. "This type of thing, it's completely a credit to the girls and their parents. It had nothing to do with us on the court.

"They just had their priorities straight. They're great kids and they did things the right way on and off the court. They were always on the bus with their books. You'd see them in the bleachers with books open doing their homework."

Aside from the team award, Douglas placed five players on the all-state academic team for maintaining a 4.0 individual GPA.

Among the all-state honorees were Helen Fillmore, Ally Freitas, Jessica Gorton, Bridget Maestretti and Maci Pfaffenberger.

"It's just a good group of girls all the way around," Douglas High athletic director Jeff Evans said. "Brilliant is a good word for it.

"You'd see them outside of practice working on homework in the commons. They understood that the 'student' in student-athlete comes first."

The Lady Tigers won the state academic championship once before early in Christen's tenure as head coach in the late 1990s.

Christen said from that team, two went on to become doctors.

"It just shows that keeping your priorities straight pays off later on in life," he said.

Douglas' roster this season included Freitas, Gorton, Fillmore, Maestretti, Pfaffenberger, Allie Hughes, Taryn Williams, Gina Pfaffenberger, Lisa Christen, Sarah Hartley, Katie Buffo, Danyelle Heidt, Sara Phillips and Jessica Waggoner.

The Lady Tigers compiled a 22-9 record overall this year, which tied for second on the program's list for wins in a season. They finished second in the Sierra League and qualified for the playoffs for the seventh-consecutive season.


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