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Douglas girls cruise into division play

by Chuck Smock

A little more than one month ago, the Douglas girls and their fans were on the brink of a season that held about as much promise as a half-court shot.

And somewhere between possibility and probability was the reality that the Tigers were going to have to replace almost all of their offensive output from the previous year.

If the Tigers heard any of the Northern 4A preseason basketball predictions, they didn’t let the perceptions of others affect their play. Douglas entered its final preseason tuneup last Thursday with a 9-3 record, which included a second-place finish at the Galena Mountain Classic and wins over Division I opponents Elko, Reed and Sparks.

“To listen to the so-called experts, it (the Tigers’ record) should be the other way around,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said.

Douglas opened with four consecutive wins before losing to host Galena in the championship game of the Mountain Classic. The Tigers responded with four more wins in a row, including two victories at the Centennial Lady Bulldogs Holiday Classic in Las Vegas.

While Douglas guards scored most of the team’s points last season, strong play in the low post has been the Tigers’ strength through the first half of this season.

The emergence of senior Lauren Myers as a scoring threat has been a key to the early season success. Myers, who was slowed last year by injuries, averaged nearly 13 points through the first six games, including a career-high 21 points in a win over Elko.

Jessica Granat also has added scoring in the post. She missed most of last season after suffering a severe knee injury against Carson, but rehabbed from reconstructive surgery in time to earn first-team, all-league volleyball honors last fall.

Power forward Michelle Roza also has been a factor. She scored a season-high 12 points in the first game at the Las Vegas tournament, but the way she plays defense and rebounds has been as important as her point production.

Stephanie Combes averaged 11 points per game in five contests in the Las Vegas tournament.

Sophomore point guard Andrea Honer has shown the ability to run the offense, as well as being a solid defender and rebounder. Both Christen and assistant coach Allen Gosselin said they would like to see Honer be a little more aggressive when she gets an open look at the basket.

Guards Christie Burruel and Kristen Garzapena both took advantage of extended minutes at the Las Vegas tournament to make bids for more playing time.

Solid efforts in practice this week by senior guards Natalie Stratton and Kim Smith also give Christen and Gosselin reason to be optimistic heading into the Division II season, which begins Tuesday with a home game against Wooster.

“For the most part, we’re working hard and having fun,” Christen said. “This is a great group of girls who want to get better every day.”

“At times, I think we defend real well,” Gosselin said. “And our offense is getting better. We’re being more patient and we’re learning.”