Basketball: Douglas pushes past McQueen
The last time the Douglas High boys’ basketball team entered the regional tournament with a league championship to its name, its season abruptly ended at home in the first round to a plucky McQueen squad.
That was 1997, though. This is now.
The Sierra League champion Tigers trailed only briefly at the start, poked holes in a stubborn McQueen Lancer zone defense and pushed ahead to a 62-42 win in the first round of the playoffs in Minden Tuesday night.
Douglas advanced to Friday night’s semifinals against Reed, 56-49 victors over Damonte Ranch Tuesday night, at Spanish Springs in a game that tips off at 7 p.m.
“We knew going in that they were going to get after us defensively and try to control the tempo,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “And they showed us every type of defense. We saw every kind of zone, we saw man. Once we understood that if we space them out and create opportunities, we were OK.”
McQueen did managed to control the tempo somewhat through the first half, but Douglas controlled the scoreboard.
McQueen’s Dakota Allinson hit a 3-pointer early on for what proved to be the only points in the first three minutes of the game.
Douglas started attacking the Lancer zone though, focusing on driving the baseline with its quick guards, and quickly reaped a lay-up from Nick Maestretti and a pair of layups from Connor Hughes.
Hunter Myers added another lay-up to complete an 8-0 run heading into the final minute of the first quarter and Douglas carried a 12-8 lead into the second.
On the other side of the court, Douglas utilized its size advantage to clog up the paint, forcing the Lancers to shoot from outside.
“I was proud of defense,” Thacker said. “The kids communicated. We just made sure they knew what was going on on the floor. We know they are good shooters, they’re a 3-point shooting team. We worked all week on guarding the perimeter.”
The extra work paid off as the Lancers were only able to knock down two first-half 3-pointers.
With Douglas leading 21-16 with four minutes remaining in the first half, the Tigers launched forth with some sharp outside shooting of its own.
Hunter Myers connected from deep behind the arc on the right side, Connor Hughes hit from the outside on the right baseline and Myers hit outside again on the opposite baseline on consecutive trips over the following two minutes.
It provided a 9-0 run that served to be the decisive stretch of the game, turning a five-point lead into a 14-point lead.
“We got ahead and that forced them to get in our face and change what they were doing,” Thacker said. “They were very focused on Hunter inside and then he made some big shots there that stretched their defense out.”
Douglas rang up a 13-4 run to start the second half, forcing McQueen completely out of its delay game as the Tigers carried a 47-26 lead into the fourth quarter.
McQueen’s Kendall DeWees hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the fourth, but Douglas responded with an 11-0 run started by a Jake Tessmann lay-up and finished by four consecutive Connor Hughes free throws.
Hughes finished with a game-high 20 points while Myers added 19, Trevor Shaffer had eight, Nick Maestretti and Michael Nolting each had four, Austin Evans had three and Tessmann and Nate VonAhsen each had two.