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Tigers slam door on Hawks

by Chuck Smock, Record Courier

The Douglas Tigers made sure their second meeting with the Hug Hawks didn’t end like the first.

Seth Lee scored 21 points, Jared Kenison added a career-high 18 points and Erik Olson chipped in with 17 points Tuesday as the Tigers took care of business -and a big fourth-quarter lead -in their 66-52 win at Hug High.

On Jan. 9, the Hawks overcame an 18-point second-half deficit and sneaked out of the Douglas gym with a 81-74 overtime win.

On Tuesday, the fourth quarter was a different story for Douglas. The Tigers were more patient on offense down the stretch, often making six or eight passes while waiting for the Hawks to break down defensively. They also turned up the defensive pressure – especially on the perimeter, forcing Hug to miss all three of the 3-pointers it attempted in the final eight minutes.

“I think we were smarter this time,” said Lee, who grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to help the Tigers control the glass on both ends of the court. “We still pushed it a few times when we should have walked the ball up, but I think we did that better. And we made them work more on defense. The last two or three minutes when they were down 12 or 14, they were just walking around, and that’s exactly what you want them to do. You want to lull them into thinking they have time and the next thing you know the game is over.

“If we just make them work on defense and not give up easy shots when time’s on our side and we have the lead, that’s all you have to do.”

Kenison played perhaps the game of his career, and not just from a scoring standpoint. He also finished with six rebounds and made at least a half-dozen other plays that won’t show up in the statistics.

Hug used a 10-0 run late in the first quarter to build a 15-11 lead. Kenison scored four points in the final 10 seconds of the period to tie the game. He grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback and then got out in transition and scored a layup at the buzzer.

He scored the Tigers’ first six points of the second quarter to give Douglas a lead it would not relinquish.

Kenison also played stifling defense and limited Hug leading scorer Martin Trovela to 10 points.

“I hope the kids understand and appreciate what Jared Kenison did tonight,” Douglas coach Keith Lewis said. “He got 18 points, but I don’t know how many times they made runs and Jared would make a play – an offensive rebound, a hustle play – to get us going. He just flat-out played his butt off.”

The same was true for many of the Tigers, who made 14 of 21 (67 percent) of their field-goal attempts in the second half and were 19-for-23 (83 percent) from the free-throw line in the game.

“It’s a great win,” Lewis said. “These kids are so much more focused. On the bus ride up, they were talking about the game plan and what they had to do in certain situations. That’s a big key. They’ve been so much more prepared mentally.”

The win over Hug was the second big one in a row for the Tigers and allowed them to jump into third place in the Sierra League standings. Douglas beat Reno last Friday, handing the Huskies their first league loss of the season.

Avoiding a letdown after beating Reno was a big step for the Tigers. Earlier in the season, Douglas followed a road win over rival Carson with home losses to South Tahoe and Wooster.

“Last time we were in the same position where we could control our own destiny if we kept winning and we had a big letup and lost two in a row in at home,” Lee said Tuesday night. “We know we have to maintain focus. We came out here and proved we could stay focused and we got a big win on their court. We have three games left and we have to keep that same focus for three more games.”

The Tigers, who played host to Carson Friday night, will finish the regular season with road games at South Tahoe on Tuesday and at Wooster on Friday.