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Tigers sink Senators

by Chuck Smock

Douglas took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter of its crucial Sierra League game at Carson High on Friday, but the Tigers were far from comfortable down the stretch.

After all, they were just three days removed from a second-half collapse that allowed the Hug Hawks to erase an 18-point deficit and escape with a 81-74 overtime victory on the Tigers’ home floor.

The final eight minutes weren’t pretty, but that didn’t seem to matter to Douglas fans, who happily mobbed the Tigers after they held on for a 52-46 win over their biggest rivals.

The Tigers committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter against Senators.

They won the game with several key rebounds and an eight-for-10 performance from the free-throw line in the final minute.

“Tuesday could have been very devastating. We had a lot of opportunities and we blew some leads,” Douglas coach Keith Lewis said, alluding to the loss to Hug. “This shows a lot of character on their part.

“At the end, we were still a little unsure of ourselves in that situation, but Robby (Honer) and Erik (Olson) stepped up and hit key free throws. In tight games like that, that’s what’s going to win the game.”

The victory was the first Sierra League win of the season for the Tigers (1-2). It was also the first league loss for the Senators (2-1).

With the Tigers clinging to a 47-43 lead with less than one minute to play, Honer grabbed a rebound off a missed Douglas free throw and was fouled immediately. He calmly sank both ends of a one-and-one situation to push the lead to six.

Vinnie Reymus put the pressure back on the Tigers with a 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining.

Olson then made five of six free-throw attempts in the final 30 seconds. His only miss in that stretch was cleaned up by fellow junior Will Thomas, who pulled down the rebound and then kicked the ball back out to Olson. The play took six seconds off the clock and eventually sent Olson back to the line.

Thomas made another big play early in the fourth quarter when he was hacked while scoring on a putback and made the free throw to complete the three-point play.

“Coach came in the locker room at halftime and reminded us about what happened against Hug,” Thomas said. “We just stuck with it and played hard and came out with a win.”

Douglas senior Seth Lee scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

Thomas added 11 points and five rebounds, Olson finished with eight points and Honer scored six points and had eight rebounds.

The Tigers held Carson’s three big guns – Cody Longero, Vinnie Reymus and Ryan Buttner -to a combined 32 points. Longero scored 17, Reymus scored 10 and Buttner scored five. Vince Inglima added 10 points for the Senators.

“I’m just so proud of the effort defensively,” Lewis said. “I thought we made them work for everything. We just didn’t let them get into a flow. I thought Robby and Jared (Kenison) did a good job on Vinnie. I thought we did a pretty good job on Cody, but he’s going to get his points. He’s a good player.”

Lee, who scored 11 of the Tigers’ 14 points in the third quarter as Douglas doubled the five-point advantage it owned at halftime, was a sophomore on the varsity team the last time the Tigers beat the Senators.

The Tigers jumped back into the playoff race with the win over the Senators. They’ll play host to South Tahoe on Friday and then will finish the first round of league play with a home game against Wooster on Tuesday.

“This is a big win,” Lee said. “We kind of gave one away to Hug. This one is kinda taking one back. We’re right back in the picture. If we can pick up wins against South Tahoe and Wooster, we’re 3-2 going into the second round of league. If we can run the table (in the second half), maybe we can get that second seed and a home game for zone.

“We have to take one game at a time, but we have to know the big picture, too. We want to know what we’re playing for. We want a home game for zone, that’s our goal.”

Lewis said Friday’s game with the Vikings – who aren’t as strong as they have been for the last decade or so – will be an even bigger test with his team coming off the win over Carson.

“The key is now, do we build on it,” Lewis said. “I’m nervous. I’m scared to death for next Friday that we’re going to come out and not be mentally ready and think were just going to show up.”