They came. They tried. They fell just short.
Douglas High girls basketball coach Werner Christen summed it up simply and best when commenting on his team’s effort after a 45-39 loss to Reno High on Friday in the Northern 4A semifinals at Carson High’s Morse Burley Gym.
“They battled,” he said.
The Tigers came within about a half a quarter from earning a spot in the state tournament when they led 36-35 midway through the fourth period. But Reno outscored Douglas 10-3 down the stretch to finally overcome the stubborn Tigers to earn a spot in the state tournament.
The top two finishers in the Northern 4A advanced to state. Reno will play Spanish Springs, a 57-54 winner over Bishop Manogue, for the Northern 4A title at 4 p.m. Saturday at Morse Burley Gym.
“This is a good bunch,” said Christen about his team. And with a strong nucleus back the future also looks bright for Douglas.
“We’re going to be OK,” Christen said. “To play in this kind of atmosphere is going to help us down the road.”
Douglas took a 36-34 lead when Riley Mello scored inside on a pass from Taylynn Kizer. But Reno methodically took charge down the stretch, extending to a 44-37 lead with less than a minute left.
The Tigers fought to the end with Alexa Moss making a steal and going in for a layup to pull Douglas to within 44-39 with 21.8 seconds left but there would be no miracle rallies.
Mello scored nine of the Tigers’s first 13 points as Douglas led 8-4 after one quarter. Mello hit a three-pointer to give the Tigers an 11-6 lead. After Reno closed to within 16-15, Kizer hit a three to give Douglas a 19-15 lead and the Tigers led 19-16 at halftime.
Much like it did in its 65-36 win over Carson in the first round of the Northern 4A playoffs on Wednesday, Reno looked like it was going to take charge after struggling in the first half. The Huskies began the second half with a 6-0 run to take a 22-19 lead.
But Douglas wouldn’t go away as Mello scored on a drive through the lane, hitting a shot off the glass to regain the lead for the Tigers at 27-26.
Reno outscored Douglas 9-3 to take a 35-30 lead entering the fourth quarter. Douglas, though, began the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run to take a 36-35 lead on Mello’s basket.
Christen praised the leadership of his seniors Moss, Hailey Hughes, Harmony Laney and Cassidy Vardas-Doane. The post player Hughes definitely made her presence felt defensively against Reno.
“We had really good senior leadership this year,” said Christen, adding the team also received solid leadership from its underclassmen. “It was a fun bunch to coach.”
Christen has also credited assistant coach Brian Mello for his team’s success.
“You’re the best man,” Christen told coach Mello in the locker room after the game.
Kizer scored 15 points and Mello added 14 points for Douglas.
Spanish Springs 57, Manogue 54
In a back and forth game of wild swings and runs, the Cougars outlasted the Miners. Spanish Springs led 21-20 in the second quarter when it went on a 17-4 run to end the half to take a 38-24 lead at halftime. The Cougars hit back-to-back threes to take a 36-22 lead late in the second quarter.
But Manogue completely controlled the third quarter, outscoring the Cougars 24-5 to take a 48-43 lead heading into the final period. Spanish Springs, though, regained control in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Miners 14-6 in the final period.
Sierra Lutheran boys fall
The Sierra Lutheran boys basketball team dropped a 60-39 game to Wells in the 1A Regional semifinals on Friday at Wooster High School.
Sierra Lutheran held a 26-22 halftime lead before Wells scored 38 points in the second half and held the Falcons to only 13 points. Senior Luke Bonafede had 13 points, three steals and seven rebounds to lead the Falcons. Seniors Zane Warkentin and Quinn Cummings each added four steals.
“This was a real heartbreaking loss. I’m really proud of the seniors; they will be greatly missed,” Sierra Lutheran coach Ben Walther said.