Douglas girls ready for league play |

Douglas girls ready for league play

by Chuck Smock

Eleven games into his first campaign as the head coach of the Douglas girls’ basketball team, Werner Christen is happy to report there haven’t been many bumps in the road to the midway point of the season.

The Tigers are playing aggressive, effective defense. They’re shooting the ball well. And, perhaps most importantly, they’re improving every day.

“There haven’t been many surprises, really,” Christen said. “We knew the returning seniors were hard workers and good leaders. And we knew the juniors coming up would give us some depth.

“(Assistant coaches) Allen (Gosselin), Danny (Hamer) and I are working them hard and they don’t complain. They’re competitors.”

The Tigers have finished second and third in the two tournaments they’ve played in. They made the toughest 4A road trip in Northern Nevada and defeated the Elko Indians in a non-league game. And, if not for some shaky moments at the free throw line, the Douglas girls could be flirting with an undefeated record heading into league play Tuesday night at Wooster.

“I’m not one of those guys who looks at the schedule and says, ‘We should win this one and we should win that one,'” Christen said, when asked about his team’s 7-4 record. “It was nice to go up to Elko and win that game. The thing is, we didn’t play real well and we still won. I know we’re not close to peaking yet.

“The encouraging thing is even when we don’t play well, we’re still in the game.”

The coach attributes that fact to all the hard work the Tigers do in practice. Spend an hour or two watching the Douglas squad work out, and you’ll know what he means.

Missed free throws mean more laps to run. Finishing second or third in a five-on-five, three-team rebounding drill means more running. The Tigers attack each new practice scenario with gusto, but it doesn’t appear that they do so out of fear of having to run another “down and back.” Each girl seems to want to win each competition. Plain and simple.

“I’ve never seen a team with so many floor burns and so many bruises on their bodies,” Christen said. “I love coming to practice. I’ve been here 13 years (as an assistant coach) and there have been times when I couldn’t say that.

“The coaches are having fun, the players are having fun and that’s a pretty good combination.”

It helps that Christen can go 12 players deep in his roster against even the toughest opponent. Having the luxury of being able to spread playing time around to at least a dozen players keeps everyone involved in practices and games, the coach said.

If there has been one surprise for Christen this season, it’s a pleasant one. The Tigers want to use defensive pressure to fuel an up-tempo offensive attack, but when they’ve been drawn into a half-court game they’ve been able to adjust by hitting the outside shot.

“When the game slows down, and we have to attack the zone, we’re shooting the ball well,” Christen said. “We’ve had our way with zones.”

They proved that against Palo Verde in the first game of the Las Vegas tournament before Christmas when they hit a team-record 10 3-pointers against a team that played zone defense the whole game. They came back the next night and hit eight 3-pointers in a double-overtime loss to Westminster.

With the start of league play only a few days away, that experience should help the Tigers in a division that will showcase everything from teams that love to run-and-gun to teams that are perfectly content to walk the ball up the floor.

“Wooster has decent size and can shoot the ball,” Christen said. “Hug and Fallon will probably play a lot of zone. And Reno and Carson are both up-tempo teams that don’t have any weaknesses.”

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