DHS falls in consolation round
Sixteen minutes of basketball and an 11-point deficit stood between the Douglas Tigers and a five day vacation at halftime of the Rail City Classic consolation championship game at Reed High Thursday.
And against an athletic team from Sacramento’s Hiram Johnson High, the few Douglas fans in the stands could have been forgiven for not expecting too much out of the Tigers.
The Tigers, however, refused to roll over in their last game before the Northern 4A Division II season starts in early January.
Douglas, which trailed by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, chipped away at the lead and forced the game into overtime. The Tigers scored first in OT – their first lead since a 3-2 advantage one minute into the contest – but Hiram Johnson responded with a 6-0 run and then hit five of six free throws in the final 30 seconds to pull out a 57-53 victory.
“I was very pleased with their effort,” Douglas coach Keith Lewis said. “I thought there were several times where we could have folded and cashed it in and started thinking about the Christmas vacation. And we didn’t do that. They showed a lot of heart tonight. They got back to being the group we had seen earlier in the season, in terms of just plugging away and coming back.”
Lewis put his team into a 2-3 zone late in the first quarter, but the defense didn’t really start to click until early in the third, when the Tigers forced five turnovers and went on a 13-2 run that brought them to within two points.
Seth Lee, who finished with 21 points, scored six points during the spurt. Mike Saylo added five of his 16 points during the run.
Kyle Baker scored nine points, including a putback and clutch free throw with 46 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime.
“Obviously, that wasn’t the result we wanted,” Lewis said of the loss. “That’s a good team. They have some good athletes and we played with them. Morale victories don’t count, but I think the kids feel good about their effort and that’s important going into the break.”
The up-and-down Tigers followed an impressive win over Dayton on Tuesday with a lackluster performance in a 50-49 victory over Lassen (Calif.) on Wednesday at Sparks High.
Douglas erased a one-point deficit in the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run that was fueled by aggressive defense and helped by six consecutive missed field goals by the Grizzlies.
The Tigers proceeded to let Lassen back in the game with ill-advised shots that wouldn’t fall and fouls in the low post that helped the Grizzlies score five points in the final 28 seconds.
Lassen’s Micah Winter missed a free throw with 2.3 seconds left to play. His teammate Shane Gillespie got a hand on the rebound, but the shot bounced off the rim, allowing to Tigers to escape with the victory.
“The last three minutes took a lot of the happiness out of the win,” Lewis said. “We just didn’t play smart.”
And the first three quarters weren’t exactly a thing of beauty. Lassen came out in a 2-3 zone defense that gave Douglas problems from the start. The Tigers didn’t score a point until J.P. Patay banked a three-pointer off the glass with 3:26 left in the first quarter. Three-pointers by Taylor Cohee and Kyle Baker gave the Tigers their nine points in the first eight minutes.
“We were letting Lassen dictate the tempo,” Lewis said. “We were coming down, playing their game. We weren’t pushing the ball. We were satisfied to come down and set up in our zone (offense). And right now we’re not just running good zone.”
The coach was especially frustrated with his team’s inability to maintain its lead late in the fourth quarter.
“The bottom line is we’re not going to beat 4A teams playing that way at the end,” he said. “That’s just not smart. We run an inbounds (play) to get the ball in, so they think they have to jack up a shot because it’s open.
“Some of the kids are in the mentality of, ‘If I make this shot, it’s a hell of a shot.’ And they’re willing to take that risk. Well, the risk almost cost us.”
The Tigers scored 24 points in the first quarter and held the Dayton Dust Devils to just four as they cruised to victory, 66-45, in the first round of consolation play at the Rail City Classic at Sparks High on Tuesday.
Lee led the Tigers with 21 points. Mike Saylo finished with 10 points.
“They really bounced back,” said Lewis, whose team suffered a 65-60 loss to Bishop (Calif.) on Monday. “They came out fired up.”
Lewis juggled his lineup Tuesday. He wanted to strengthen his bench to allow the Tigers to maintain a high level of intensity on the floor at all times.
The Douglas coaching staff asked seniors Kyle Baker and Brandon Griffith to go from starters to the first options off the bench. Neither player questioned the decision.
“We’re trying to create a second group that is strong as the first,” Lewis said. “We’ve had a big dropoff when we went to the bench.
“Kyle and Brandon will do anything for the team. I know it’s not a glamourous role, but it shows the type of kids they are. I knew if anyone could take it like a man, they could.”
The strategy worked against Dayton, as the starting five built a 10-point lead and the second wave of Tigers pushed the advantage to 20.
“It’s important to have leadership in that second group,” Lewis said. “The bottom line is we came out and defended really hard. Hopefully, we found out that when we work hard on the defensive end it leads to easy baskets on offense.”
The Tigers created a season-high 21 steals against the Dust Devils.
“I thought they did a good job all the way around,” Lewis said.
Rail City Classic
Monday, Dec. 21
Dayton 4 15 13 13 45
Douglas 24 15 8 19 66
Douglas (5-4) -Brandon Griffith 1 0-0 2, Mike Saylo 4 1-2 10, Jared Petersen 4 4-5 12, Jared Kenison 1 1-2 3, Josh Wilcox 2 0-0 4, Taylor Cohee 2 1-2 5, Seth Lee 9 3-4 21, Roland Haas 1 2-2 3, Kevin Smith 1 2-4 4, Kipp Baird 1 0-2 2. Totals: 25 14-23 66. Three-pointers: Saylo, Cohee.
Tuesday, Dec. 22
Lassen 9 12 10 18 49
Douglas 9 10 12 19 50
Douglas (6-4) – J.P. Patay 1 0-0 3, Taylor Cohee 4 1-1 11, Kyle Baker 1 0-0 3, Seth Lee 8 1-2 18, Roland Haas 0 1-2 1, Mike Saylo 3 2-3 8, Josh Wilcox 1 0-0 2, Jared Petersen 1 0-0 2, Brandon Griffith 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 5-8 50. Three-pointers: Cohee 2, Patay, Baker, Lee.
Wednesday, Dec. 23
Douglas 11 8 13 14 7 53
Hiram Johnson 18 12 6 10 11 57
Douglas (6-5) – Seth Lee 9 2-3 21, Mike Saylo 6 2-4 16, Taylor Cohee 1 0-0 3, Jared Kenison 1 0-0 2, Kyle Baker 4 1-1 9, Josh Wilcox 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 5-8 53. Three-pointers: Saylo 2, Cohee, Lee.