Basketball: Douglas boys hold on to beat McQueen, Lady Tigers suffer late loss |

Basketball: Douglas boys hold on to beat McQueen, Lady Tigers suffer late loss

by Joey Crandall

There’s been little question this season that the Douglas boys’ basketball team’s greatest team strength is its depth.

That depth, particularly in the front court, carried the Tigers past McQueen Tuesday night in a 53-38 win. Douglas improved to 10-2 on the year overall and 4-0 in Northern 4A play.

Douglas’ three primary big men — Hunter Myers, Jorey Scott and Matt Thomas — combined for 28 points, 25 of which came inside the paint.

The performance was made even more impressive considering the Tigers’ 1-for-11 performance behind the 3-point line.

“Our big guys really made a difference inside,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “Their big guy (CJ Grigg) did a good job, but the nice thing with our team is we can rotate through three or four big guys and try to make you guard all of them.”

The Tigers opened up a 29-9 lead in the first half, holding McQueen scoreless for about seven minutes.

The Lancers, though, closed out the half on a 4-0 run, which they extended into an 11-0 run through the first two minutes of the third quarter.

While Douglas was cold from outside, McQueen nailed five 3-pointers in the second half to close the deficit down to its final five points.

“We had a size advantage but they outrebounded us in the second half,” Thacker said. “That’s a credit to them. “We started to slip up in our team defense and they knocked down some shots.”

Douglas did limit Joe Saarem, who Thacker called McQueen’s best scorer, scoreless.

“Theo (Denson) did a really good job on him and the team stepped up on him,” Thacker said. “He’s a great scorer and a great player.

“We’re just happy to come out with a win. They are a well-coached team.”

Douglas travels to defending regional champion Manogue Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

“We can’t let up,” Thacker said. “We have to turn things up and try to keep this going.”

Myers finished with a game-high 17 points, Austin Neddenriep had 13, Denson had eight, Thomas had six and Scott had five.

Werner Christen shrugged his shoulders in disbelief.

The Douglas High girls’ basketball coach had just watched his team play its best eight minutes of basketball of the entire season.

They’d avoided the slow start that had plagued them all year. They’d held a talented McQueen squad scoreless for a long stretch of the first half.

The offense came together, they were scoring in transition and they rattled off 19 unanswered points.

And at the end of it all, somehow, the Tigers were on the losing end of a 39-36 contest.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Christen said with a laugh. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Douglas opened up a 27-8 lead in the first half and held McQueen without a field goal for nearly 11 minutes.

The Lancers, though, turned the tables completely on Douglas, outscoring the Tigers 28-9 in the second half.

“It’s a position (holding a substantial lead) that this team is not used to playing in,” Christen said. “We played too careful. We were playing not to lose and we stopped doing a lot of things that we had been doing well in the first half.”

Even after the second half collapse, the Tigers still had a chance win, even building a five-point lead on a 4-0 run with three minutes left, but the Lancers scored the game’s final eight points to claim the win.

“You have to give some credit to McQueen, they were aggressive on defense and we struggled to get through that,” Christen said. “I didn’t like our tempo at the end of the first half. We warned them at halftime that if we continued to play like that, we could get in trouble.

“We didn’t finish and we didn’t hit some of those easy shots down the stretch.”

It was a far cry from the first quarter.

“That was the best quarter we’ve played all season,” Christen said. “We ran the floor well, we rebounded, we had numbers going the other way. We were going to the ball and attacking. It was great. And we got away from doing what we were doing.

“We have to get back to that.”

Ebony Cleveland led the Tigers with nine points, Carly McCullough had seven and Erica Macias had six for Douglas.