Tigers ‘snowball’ to second-place
Today (all games start at 7 p.m.): Spanish Springs (No. 3 High Desert) at Douglas (No. 2 Sierra), Carson (No. 3 Sierra) at Reed (No. 2 High Desert), Galena (No. 4 Sierra) at Reno (No. 1 High Desert), McQueen (No. 4 High Desert) at Bishop Manogue (No. 1 Sierra). The semifinals will be played Friday and the finals Saturday at Carson High School.
Madison Rodgers waited two months to return to the court for the Douglas High girls basketball team, and the junior forward made the best of her return Saturday afternoon with some key contributions for the Tigers in their 54-37 regular season-ending victory at home against Carson.
Rodgers, playing for the first time since going down with a knee injury on Dec. 6, came off the bench and helped spark a 19-2 run inside the final five minutes before halftime that put Douglas (8-8 league, 11-14 overall) in command during a shootout to decide second-place in the Sierra League at Randy Green Court. Six players scored points during a span of 4 minutes, 35 seconds in the second quarter as the Tigers turned a 17-15 deficit into a 34-19 halftime advantage.
By winning, Douglas earned the right to host No. 3 High Desert League seed Spanish Springs in opening-round play of the Northern 4A Region Tournament tonight at 7 p.m.
Taylynn Kizer and Hannah Carr scored 16 and 15 points respectively to lead Douglas offensively against Carson, while Madi Smalley added nine points and 11 rebounds.
Rodgers contributed eight points, nine rebounds and three steals. Needless to say, she was anxious to play again.
“I was so happy to be back; I can’t tell you how hard it was sitting and watching (on the bench),” Rodgers said.
The timing couldn’t have been better for the Tigers, who are now riding a four-game win streak into the postseason. Douglas lost 42-32 at Carson on Jan. 24.
“She did a great job coming off the injury,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said. “She helped get us going in the second quarter.”
Carson led 14-11 after one quarter, however, the Senators were outscored 23-8 in the second. Bella Kordonowy converted one of two free throws to give Carson a 17-15 lead, however, the Senators went scoreless over the next three minutes as Douglas started a run that just seemed to snowball.
“We meshed really well,” Rodgers said. “We started to see each other better, we made some good passes and made some good shots. It was great because we wanted to beat Carson.”
Rodgers sank a pair of free throws to the tie score with 4:35 showing on the clock. Carr scored on a fast break layup moments later to give the Tigers a lead they never relinquished. Carr added two free throws and Hailey Hughes made one of two free throws to make it 22-17. Then Rodgers pressured the Senators into a turnover that led to Kizer sinking a 3-pointer from the right side, assisted by Alexa Moss. In the final 1:17, sophomore Kevyn Reid buried a 3-pointer, Kizer hit a medium range jumper, then Smalley converted two free throws and scored on a putback at the buzzer to make it 34-19 at the intermission.
“We were able to mix it up,” Christen said. “The kids shared the ball well, we made some shots, and from there, it was like a snowball rolling down the mountain.”
Carson (7-9, 12-13) never got any closer than 11 points in the second half.
“They did a real good job in the second quarter … that was the game right there,” Carson coach Melissa Larsen said. “We turned the ball over too many times against their press and we didn’t box out.”
The Tigers enjoyed a 46-27 advantage in the rebound column, led by Hailey Hughes with 13, six on the offensive end. Douglas collected 20 offensive rebounds.
Carson was without sophomore post player Hailey Garver due to a sprained ankle.
“Give Carson credit; they came out ready to play,” Christen said. “They were down Haley … she’s a big part of what that team does.”
Lauren Lemburg and Kordonowy led Carson with nine points each. Dajarrah Navarro added eight points and 13 rebounds (five offensive).