MINDEN — Austin Evans, Pat Johnson and A.J. Pfaffenberger made their last home game at Douglas a memorable experience.
Evans and Johnson scored 12 each and Pfaffenberger added 10, and all three made big plays in the fourth quarter to help the Tigers end the regular season with a 52-44 win over Carson Friday night before a capacity crowd.
Douglas and Carson ended up tied for third place at 9-7, but the Senators will be the No. 3 seed by a 45.5-44 point margin in the universal tie-breaker system employed by the NIAA. That means Douglas visits High Desert champ Reed at 7 p.m. Wednesday, while Carson goes to second-place Spanish Springs, also at 7.
Douglas coach Corey Thacker was especially impressed the way his team built up a 40-21 lead early in the fourth period thanks to a 12-2 run, and then made enough plays down the stretch to overcome a late 13-0 run by the Senators. It was a stellar combination of good defense, good ball movement and pinpoint shooting.
“We did a good job of executing which produced good shots,” Thacker said. “We executed and made the shots. We had a couple of transition baskets in there. Austin had one and A.J. had one right in the middle of that run.”
Douglas entered the final quarter with a 28-19, but that grew to 40-21 in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the final period thanks to the aforementioned 12-2 run. James Herrick, the 6-10 Douglas center, started the surge when he took a pass over the top of Ian Schulz, dropped the ball in and converted the ensuing free throw. Cameron Price (13 points) answered back to make it 31-21. Johnson hit a trey to stretch the led to 13, and after Carson failed to convert its next two possessions, Pfaffenberger dropped in a 3-pointer to make it 37-21. The lead swelled to 19 when the Tigers took advantage of an errant pass by Dilyn Rooker and turned it into a 3-pointer by Evans to make it 40-21 with 5:30 left.
If you’re a Carson fan, that’s when the fun began.
The Senators started to play a swarming, trapping defense, and the Tigers started to wilt under the pressure,
Price made a single free throw to start the surge, and after a Douglas turnover, Price scored again to make it 40-24. Kyle Steele made a free throw after another Tiger turnover, and after Herrick missed a layup, Austin Shaffer scored on a putback to make it 40-27. On the next possession, Shaffer drained a 3-pointer to make it 40-30. Douglas turned the ball over again, and Price made two free throws to get the lead to single digits, 40-32. Douglas lost the ball on its next possession and Steele made a pull-up jump shot to cap the 3-minute flurry.
“We started pressuring and flying around,” Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia said. “Sometimes when you get ahead you can get complacent. We were trying to pressure and we hit some shots and got back in the game.”
“They started attacking and throwing up shots,” Thacker said. “They picked up the tempo. In the first half, they wanted to go slow.”
Douglas regained control, as Johnson hit a big trey, and after a Kyle Denning misfire, Evans came down for a three-point play to make it 46-34 with 2:06 left. Rooker missed the front end of a one-and-one, and then Asa Carter was unable to convert a putback attempt.
A bucket by Steele and a trey by Carter made it 47-39, but Herrick and Tay Simms made a free throw apiece to make it 10-point game with 42.8 left. Baskets by Rooker and Steele cut it to 50-44, but Herrick made two free throws with 7.1 to end it.
“We played hard until the end,” Mendeguia said. “We could have quit, but we hung in there and cut it to six at one point.”