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For Douglas boys basketball, it’s quality over quantity

by Chuck Smock, Staff writer

Keith Lewis starts his third season as the Douglas boys’ basketball coach with nearly one-third fewer players than he had last year.

When final cuts were made Tuesday, the Tigers’ varsity roster included 11 names.

“We had a little change in philosophy this year,” said Lewis, who had 15 players on the roster last season. “We tried to keep the number of kids we feel like we can adequately get playing time. Hopefully, that will help team morale in the long haul.”

Lewis kept four seniors, three of whom return with varsity experience, six juniors and one freshman. The Tigers will open the season on Nov. 28 with a 7 p.m. road game against Galena.

“I’m just thrilled with the group I got,” Lewis said. “We’re inexperienced at the varsity level, but we’re going to be a lot more athletic and we definitely have some kids who can play both defense and offense.”

Senior Seth Lee was the Tigers’ first -and sometimes only -offensive option last season. Lewis is happy to have a proven scorer in his lineup, but hopes his squad will be able to spread around the offense this season.

“Last year, as Seth went, we went,” the coach said. “This year, to truly be successful, we’re going to have some other kids be able to score. And it’s a two-way street. Seth has to learn that he has guys who can help him. These guys can’t help him if he doesn’t allow them to help him.”

Lee earned second-team all-Region honors as well as first-team all-League recognition last year as a junior on a team that won only two league games. He’ll be the Douglas player opposing coaches will focus on stopping early in the season.

“Without question, he’s probably one of the best players in Northern Nevada,” Lewis said. “Maybe I’m biased because he’s on my team, but the kid can score.

“This year he’s going to have to set up in terms of leadership and he’s going to have to be a big force on the boards.”

Fellow seniors Rob Honer, Jared Kenison and Brian Turley also will be counted on to play big roles

Honer has the size and skill to become an impact front-line player for the Tigers. He scored more than 30 points in a game at South Tahoe this summer and developed into an efficient shot blocker.

“Robby jumps real well and will be strong on the boards,” Lewis said. “He gives us a big-guy presence inside because he jumps so well.”

Kenison, who started at quarterback for the Douglas football team last fall, is a great athlete who can play the post and the four spot. He’ll often be asked to defend the opponent’s best player.

Turley missed last season with a knee injury, which he reaggravated this summer. He’ll try to get through his senior season at shooting guard while playing on a torn ACL in his left knee.

“Brian is going to have to learn to play a different way,” Lewis said. “He’s going to have to learn to play angles, but he’s smart that way. He knows how to keep his body between the basket and the other player.”

One of the big keys for the Tigers this season will be the development of the six juniors who are trying to make the jump up from the junior varsity level.

Travis Baker is the early favorite to win the starting job at point guard.

“I think Travis brings some of the best court vision we’ve had here for a long time,” Lewis said. “He sees the court incredibly well and he has a past-first, shoot-second mentality.”

Erik Olson has the versatility to play anywhere from guard to post. He’ll likely earn a majority of his playing minutes on the front line, where Lewis hopes to take advantage of his ability to score in the low post.

Will Thomas is another junior the Tigers are counting on for a breakout season.

“We’re looking for big things from Will,” Lewis said. “He’s going to be very dangerous in transition if we can get out and run. When he catches the ball in the lane, I haven’t seen a kid take the ball harder to the basket than he does.”

Dominik Prosser, Matt Saylo and Andrew Andrews all have the potential to work themselves into positions to make key contributions off the bench.

Freshman Luke Rippee will also provide a spark for the Tigers this season.

“Through the summer, Luke has shown he deserves to be here,” Lewis said. “The coaches are all in agreement that he can play at the varsity level. And I think Randy (Green) has seen enough varsity basketball to know.

“The thing you can’t teach is competitiveness. Luke is one of the most competitive kids on the team. I like his mental makeup. He’s going to make mistakes, but I don’t think it’s going to shake his confidence.”