Thomas McDowell and the Douglas High boys basketball team gave Damonte Ranch fits all night long on both ends of the floor in the Class 5A boys regional quarterfinals.
A 21-0 run for the Tigers over the course of a six-minute span between the end of the first quarter and the middle of the second opened things up quickly.
By the time everything was said and done, the Tigers had defended their home floor for the final time this season with a 75-57 win.
Now, No. 4 Douglas will travel North Thursday to take on No. 1 Spanish Springs in the regional semifinal with a win advancing either team to the state tournament.
Tip-off Thursday is expected at 6:30 p.m.
McDowell’s rhythmic shot
Though Douglas’ scoring run gave the Tigers an early cushion, it was McDowell’s red-hot shooting hand that kept Damonte Ranch at arms length.
The senior had nine points at half, but opened up the third quarter with a corner triple to give Douglas a 44-20 lead.
Up 48-28, Caden Thacker found McDowell at the top of the arc for a triple. JC Reid found McDowell on the wing the next time down the floor with the same result – a swished 3-pointer.
“It starts off with the team. They all swing the ball and we passed the ball well tonight,” said McDowell. “I felt really comfortable. Once I get on like that, I feel like the night’s over.”
Recently, McDowell has one of Douglas’ prime targets with double-digit point totals in six of his last nine games.
Tuesday night, the senior was 10-of-17 from the floor for a 59 percent shooting clip, finishing with a season-high 27 points.
“He has that capability. That’s the nice part of our team. If we all share the ball, we have multiple dudes who can score at any time. I think we can have four or five dudes who can pop up like that,” said Douglas head coach Corey Thacker.
McDowell closed the third quarter by picking up a loose ball just in front of half court and launching a shot to beat the buzzer, hitting nothing but net on the way down.
Unmatched scoring run
The 21-0 scoring run was opened up by Jett Lehmann with an and-one opportunity off of a put back basket, giving Douglas an 11-9 lead.
Junior Jeremiah Pitts, who has been working his way back into the rotation, had some excellent minutes in the opening quarter as well.
After Lehmann’s 3-point play, Pitts was on the receiving end of a Lehmann pass for a corner triple.
Moments later, Pitts walked up and swiped the ensuing inbounds pass for five points in a matter of seconds to close the first quarter.
It was the same story for Aden Flory to open the second.
Flory cut backdoor and deposited an open layup off a dish from JC Reid and then immediately grabbed a Mustang inbounds pass for a steal and two more points.
The two buckets forced a Damonte Ranch timeout 19 seconds into the second quarter with Douglas leading 22-8.
“What (Pitts) can do offensively is really nice and he’s really improved his defense,” said Thacker.
“I was really happy in the first half that they only had three offensive rebounds. That really holds them back.”
Lehmann had 11 points Tuesday night while Pitts finished with five points and Flory had six points and four boards.
By the end of the run, the Tigers went from trailing 9-8 to leading 29-9.
Damonte Ranch never got closer than a 14-point deficit the rest of the way.
“I believe that is was just moving the ball. We moved the ball well, got open looks and knocked down our shots,” said McDowell of the 21-0 run.
Theo Reid concluded his final game on the Tigers' home hardwood with eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Caden Thacker also had eight points for the Tigers as well.
Senior Jack Tolbert had six points and three assists.
The Tigers will have a totally different matchup in two days against a Cougar team that has topped them twice this season by scores of 58-35 and 50-43.
“We’re going to have to be aggressive. Last time we played up there it was ugly. It’s just taking care of the ball and being ready to handle their physicality,” said Thacker. “We get to step up toe-to-toe and see what happens.”
Class 5A boys regional quarterfinal scores
No. 1 Spanish Springs 62, No. 9 Galena 35
No. 2 Reno 64, No. 7 Reed 29
No. 3 Bishop Manogue 74, No. 6 McQueen 42
(Douglas High's Jett Lehmann slams down a breakaway dunk for two of his 11 points Tuesday night in the Tigers' Class 5A regional quarterfinal win over Damonte Ranch Tuesday night. / Ron Harpin)