Boys' Basketball: Tigers came together at the right time

There was a point about two weeks before the end of the year where it appeared that the wheels were about to fall off the cart for the Douglas boys' basketball team.

The Tigers had barely escaped with an overtime win against Carson after leading by as much as 18 points in the second half. They then stumbled against Damonte Ranch, a team Douglas had beaten by 15 weeks earlier, with a 67-63 loss in Minden.

For many teams, those two games would have been the beginning of the end.

For the Tigers, however, the fun was just beginning.

Douglas turned around and won five of its next six games to clinch the school's first state berth in 16 years and advance to the regional title game for the second consecutive year.

"Obviously, we had a great group of kids," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. "We came together at the right time. That's what gave us a good push, but really the kids did a great job all year."

At the time, the loss to Damonte Ranch eliminated any hopes the Tigers' had of capturing the Sierra League title and it briefly put them in danger of losing a shot a a home playoff game in the first round.

"The kids really showed that they knew when to step up," Thacker said. "You hope as a coach that those things don't happen late in the year, but it was a good learning experience for us too.

"The younger guys saw what was happening and hopefully they learned you can't let those things happen."

Douglas came into the year with three senior starters entering their third varsity season and two juniors entering their second, so naturally expectations were high.

The season opened with a 50-49 loss at home to Reed, during which the Raiders rained down 12 3-pointers.

After three wins against 3A schools and a loss to eventual 3A state-champ Faith Lutheran, it was tough to tell where exactly the Tigers stood compared to those pre-season expectations.

The Tigers went a long way toward answering that question in the first round of the George Maldonado Tournament at Galena a week later.

Douglas contained Utah State-bound Jordan Stone, holding him to just eight points, on its way to a 69-54 win over Sky View, Utah.

Douglas took third in the tournament and then opened league-play with a blowout win over Wooster.

The statement of the preseason came four days later when Douglas shocked then-No. 1 Galena 66-54 in Reno.

Douglas rumbled through league play, took second behind Reno and then opened the playoffs with a 70-59 win over Reed, this time keeping the Raiders without a 3-pointer.

The Tigers lose much of their size heading into next year as the bulk of the front court of Jeff Nady (6-7), David Laird (6-3), Kevin Emm (6-3), Drew Hamlett (6-5), Herman Fillmore (6-2) and Nick Hales (6-2) will graduate.

Only 6-4 Parker Robertson will return in the frontcourt.

On the other hand, Douglas will bring back nearly every backcourt player on its roster, led by starters James McLaughlin (6-3) and Ross Bertolone (6-1), sixth-man Tim Rudnick and shooting guard CJ Marcotte. Tyler Hoelzen will also return at guard.

"We'll be strong with our guards," Thacker said. "We'll be looking to push the game to a full-court style. Our defense will be full-court, as opposed to running half-court traps."

"We have to get to that style if we want to get to the next level. We want that constant ball pressure like Reno shows or like Cheyenne showed us in the state semifinals."

The 93-55 loss to Cheyenne, Thacker said, was an eye-opener for the program.

"The last two teams to win state, Reno and Galena, they dip down into Las Vegas during December," Thacker said. "It's proven successful.

"We want to be one of those teams, so we're going to have to take our chances down there in Las Vegas. We've made the trips to Sacramento and to Clovis, now its time to take the next step."

Thacker, who was hired last June, is also looking forward to having a complete offseason with the program.

"This will be the first group of kids that I'll get to have for the whole year, so it's exciting," he said. "We'll be getting our guys who aren't in spring sports out to some spring tournaments and doing the same thing in the summer.

"Our goal is just to keep these guys competing and learning to play with each other. If we can get the whole team together during the summer, that will help out tremendously."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment