No. 2 Artesia pulls away in 2nd half for win over Douglas |

No. 2 Artesia pulls away in 2nd half for win over Douglas

by Joey Crandall

Don’t let the Douglas boys’ basketball team be accused of just showing up for the fireworks.

After taking a 20-point loss to Arlington Country Day, ranked as high as 10th in the country, Wednesday night, the Tigers came in with an even stiffer test against the No. 2 Artesia Pioneers, out of Lakewood, Calif., Thursday night.

All Douglas did was step up its game another notch.

In the end, the point differential was slightly worse as Artesia walked away with a 21-point 71-50 win, but Douglas was able to make it interesting until well into the third quarter in the first round of the George Maldonado Classic at Galena High School.

“I talked with (Galena coach) Tom Maurer this morning (about Galena’s 90-65 loss to Artesia Wednesday),” Douglas coach Rob Streeter said. “He said he felt his squad had the jump start on us because Galena had already faced two or three national powers before last night.”

“For us (against Arlington Country Day), it was our first look at that type of athleticism and quickness out on the floor, so naturally it took some getting used to.

“Today we looked at film from our game and from the Galena-Artesia game and compared notes to see what we could do against Artesia. The kids came out playing hard, they were able to handle the pressure better tonight and we came out of this a better team.”

James McLaughlin hit two 3-pointers early in the game and Mike Gransbery hit another to give Douglas an early 9-7 lead.

Artesia then broke out with an 11-2 run to close out the quarter and appeared poised to run away with the entire game as it extended the run to 17-2 with the first six points of the second quarter.

Douglas, however, started falling into rhythm with the packed zone defense Streeter had installed before the game to account for Artesia’s height inside.

With the score at 31-14, Keith Olson scored on a putback to kick off what would end up being a 12-2 run for the Tigers to close out the half.

Brandon Bernard, Gransbery, Jeff Nady and McLaughlin each had baskets during the run, mostly on breakaways caused by steals inside on defense.

McLaughlin’s was one of Douglas’ highlights of the game as he broke out into the open with the ball, outraced the Artesia defender and took it up for a one-handed dunk.

Kevin Emm hit a shot right at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 33-26.

“We were pumped up,” Gransbery, who finished the game with 10 points, said about the feel in the locker room at halftime. “At that point, we really felt we had a shot to win. They obviously had the talent, but we felt we were working harder.”

The Pioneers were able to readjust their offense a bit at halftime, however, and came our firing with an 8-0 run over the first two minutes of the third quarter.

“I don’t know if we started getting cocky or what, but we just weren’t as on when we came out for the second half,” Gransbery said.

The Tigers managed to pull back within 11 several times in the third, a quarter in which Gransbery hit a 3-pointer and McLaughlin had a nice reverse layup, but Artesia pulled away for good on a 9-0 run midway through the fourth.

McLaughlin led the Tigers with 12 points.

Artesia managed to hold Olson to just six points, but Olson made his mark with an impressive afternoon on the boards against two 6-9 starters for the Pioneers.

“It’s been fun seeing two of the top 10 teams in less than 24 hours,” Olson said. “It was a great experience for the whole team. We got to see where we are and what we can work on.”

Gransbery agreed.

“We talked a lot heading into these game about not being afraid to come out and play our best,” he said. “We didn’t back down and as a team we got a lot better. We learned a lot.

“We came out of this with two losses, but overall, I think this was a win for our program in the long run.”

For Artesia, Renardo Sidney, the No. 1-rated sophomore in the country, and James Harding each had 18 points to lead the Pioneers.

Douglas will take on Orem, Utah, Friday (Dec. 15) at 3:30 p.m.