Basketball: Douglas advances to state tournament, regional title game |

Basketball: Douglas advances to state tournament, regional title game

by Joey Crandall

The Douglas boys’ basketball team had just clinched its berth to state Friday night when they received an unexpected visitor.

Former Douglas standout Jeff Nady, who was the cornerstone of the 2008 Tiger squad – the last to qualify for state – slipped in to the Tiger locker room and delivered a quick, simple message.

“He just said the last time we made it this far, we got to play in state, but we didn’t win a zone championship,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “He said ‘Let’s get one for Douglas.’

“It’s a big thing for these guys. It’s nice to be able to have alumni like that to help pass on the tradition.”

It also hammered home a point Thacker wanted the team to hear.

“The most important thing is the program,” he said. “We’re all going to be gone eventually, but Douglas will still be there. We have to take care of the program. Winning a zone championship for this program would be big.”

Douglas put itself in position to win its first-ever Northern 4A regional championship with a solid 65-54 win over Reed at Spanish Springs High School Friday night.

The win clinched Douglas’ second state appearance and fourth regional finals appearance in the last six seasons.

The Tigers will face top-ranked Hug in the regional championship Saturday at 6 p.m. at Spanish Springs.

Douglas got 22 points from standout center Hunter Myers, 14 from Nick Maestretti and 13 from Connor Hughes en route to the win.

“Reed is a great team,” Thacker said. “I thought they did a great job in the first half and messed with us a big (with their full-court press defense).

“We had a couple of things that just weren’t smart decision making. But we have smart, experienced guys that pulled us together. Our kids started getting inside and once we handled the pressure, we were fine.”

Reed put up the game’s first four points, but Douglas rattled off a 12-3 run over the next three minutes to take a 12-7 lead.

The Raiders trimmed the lead down with a 7-0 run that stretched between the opening quarters and pushed ahead to a 19-18 lead on a 3-pointer from Dylan McKenzie.

Douglas bounced right back, though, and pieced together an 8-3 run to close out the half with a 28-24 lead.

“Reed is very well conditioned and they press all the time,” Thacker said. “We knew that if they put the shots up there (from outside), there was a good chance they’d go in. So we just had to make sure we were contesting the shots and doing our job off the boards.”

Hughes was charged with the majority of the responsibility of breaking the Raiders’ press and got solid help from Myers, Maestretti, Michael Nolting and Nate VonAhsen throughout the game.

An 8-4 run through the early part of the third quarter brought Reed back to within two at 34-32 with 4:46 left.

Myers hit a big 3-pointer, however, that stopped the run and launched Douglas on a 11-2 run of its own.

Following a late Reed 3-pointer, James Herrick made a nice reverse lay-up as time expired in the quarter to stretch Douglas’ lead to 10 at 47-37.

Myers hit another 3-pointer early in the fourth Douglas later stretched out another big run (this one 10-2) to effectively put the game out of reach at 60-48.

Maestrettu sealed the win with four consecutive made free throws to set the score at 64-48 heading down the stretch.

“Tomorrow is another big test,” Thacker said. “We have to play hard and play well. It’s our most important game.

Trevor Shaffer added six points for Douglas, VonAhsen had four and Nolting, Austin Evans, Matt Wylie and Herrick each finished with two.