Senior leadership was key for Lady Tigers | RecordCourier.com

Senior leadership was key for Lady Tigers

by Joey Crandall

If you stopped paying attention for any period of time this basketball season, it would have been easy to miss the Douglas High girls’ squad quietly putting together one of the best years in school history.

But such was the character of the 2004-05 Lady Tigers. Leave them unattended for a second and they’d blow right past you.

No bells. No whistles. Just solid basketball.

Douglas racked up 22 wins, the second highest total in school history behind the the 2001-02 squad’s 26, and obliterated the state record for free throws made in a season with 440 (Reed had 348 in 1991) on its way to a Sierra League runner-up finish and its fourth consecutive appearance in the regional semifinals.

The Tigers outscored their opponents by an average of 58.7 to 50.0 on the year, and heavily relied on its defense to create its offense. They were at their best offensively when slashing to the basket and getting to the free throw line.

“I really didn’t know what to expect heading into this year,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said. “I knew we would be OK, but when you lose someone like (2003-04 standout post player) Julie (Gingrich), that’s big.

“It ended up being a really fun year. Wins are great, getting into the playoffs is great, but they were just a fun bunch to be around. If you could’ve seen them in practice every day, you’d just shake your head. They’re all a bunch of nutcakes.”

Headlining the Tigers this year were forwards Erin Brinkmeyer and Brittany Puzey and point guard Tammy Gough.

The three seniors combined to score 1,123 of the team’s 1,705 points on the year, making up 66 percent of the Tigers’ offensive output.

“That’s a lot of scoring that we lose heading into next year, but those three just meant so much to this program.”

Douglas (22-7, 9-3) also benefitted from strong bench play throughout the season, particularly from its remaining seniors, Jessie and Kellei Kizer, who combined for 149 points.

“Jessie is just one of the players that is a phenomenal leader,” Christen said. “The opposing coaches noticed her every game. She got the job done wherever we plugged her in.

“I was so happy to have a player like her these last three years. She’s a great defender and played hard for us every time out.”

While the Tigers see a significant portion of the offensive output departing, much of its defensive core remains – something that bodes well for a program that has long based its foundation on defense.

Freshman Bridget Maestretti started all but one game at guard for the Tigers this season and center Monica Knight, a junior, stepped in after starter Dana Pardee was sidelined with a season-long illness and grew into one of the better post players in the north.

“Monica, the last three weeks of the season, she was easily one of the top two or three post players around,” Christen said. “Bridget was one that caught my eye this summer.

“I wasn’t sure after watching her in eight-grade that she would be varsity ready, but she really impressed me on the defensive end of the floor this summer.

“She’s relentless on defense and she will be a leader on this team over the next few years.

Maestretti averaged 4.5 points per game on the year and Knight averaged 5.86.

“I don’t know what we would’ve done without Monica this year after Dana went out,” Christen said. “Both she and Brittany just did a fantasic job on the boards this year.”

Post players Felicia Imelli, Autumn Burtt and Katie Ezell and reserve guard Liv Andersson also made solid contributions off the bench during the season.

Pardee, Imelli, Burtt and Ezell all return, setting up the Tigers’ very well at post next season.

— Joey Crandall can be reached at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.