Within reach: Douglas within one win of state tournament
The Douglas High girls basketball team has been living on the edge the past week. And that’s where the Tigers like to be — and where they are at their best.
Douglas opened the Northern 4A playoffs with a 46-40 win over Reed on Wednesday at Randy Green Court. It was the second straight game in which the Tigers went down to the wire for a win.
The Tigers playoff run really began on Monday when they trailed rival Carson 42-36 midway through the fourth quarter. Just how much of a fine line was Douglas experiencing when it trailed CHS?
Douglas was facing a first round playoff game at High Desert League champion Reno High with a loss against CHS. But the Tigers went from that possible meeting to now being just one win from advancing to the NIAA 4A State Championship Tournament. The Tigers really began that run when they came back for a 52-45 win over CHS, earning them a home game against Reed instead of a road game at Reno High.
“If you would have said at the beginning of the year you’ve got one shot to go to state I would have said, ‘OK,’” Douglas coach Werner Christen said. “This is great for us. This is great to play again.”
Douglas got that shot when it met Reno in the Northern 4A semifinals on Friday at Carson High’s Morse Burley Gym. In the other semifinal, Spanish Springs played Manogue. The winners of Friday’s semifinal games advanced to state.
“Teams play better at home,” said Christen commenting on the importance of playing at home. “We played well at home tonight.”
Douglas led 39-35 when Janae Bluehorse — who used to play for the Tigers — hit her fourth three-pointer of the game to pull Reed to within 39-38.
But the Tigers went on to put the game away from the foul line where they hit seven of eight free throws to score their last seven points. After Riley Mello was fouled inside when she took the ball strong to the basket, the freshman hit both free throws to give Douglas a 41-38 lead.
After Reed closed to within 41-40, Madi Smalley was fouled after she took the ball strong to the basket and she made both free throws to give the Tigers a 43-40 lead. When Reed was forced to foul, Taylynn Kizer hit two foul shots and Hailey Hughes hit a free throw for the final margin. Douglas was 18-of-25 from the foul line while Reed was 16-of-24.
Blue horse’s late three came after she hit three threes in the first half to keep the Raiders in the game. Christen said switching to a 1-3-1 defense helped contain Blue horse. “I thought we did a better job on Janae,” Christen said. “We did a little better job guarding the wings.”
Kizer scored the Tigers’ first seven points, hitting a three to give Douglas a 7-2 lead. “That start got us going tonight,” Christen said. “You saw what that does.”
Even though Reed responded with a 7-0 run to take a 9-7 lead, the Tigers’ fast start still showed Reed it was going to be in for a dog fight. And Douglas responded with a 12-0 run of its own to take a 19-9 lead in the second quarter.
Karris David began the run by hitting a three to give the Tigers a 12-9 lead. Reed fought back behind Blue horse’s three-point shooting to close to within 27-23 at halftime.
Kizer opened the third quarter with a basket to give Douglas a 29-23 lead. But the Tigers wouldn’t scored again until Smalley went coast to coast for a basket to end the third quarter, but the basket did give Douglas a 31-29 lead.
Christen also said his team is playing with a lot of confidence right now which he credited to assistant coach Brian Mello.
Kizer scored 21 points, Smalley had 13 points and Mello added six points for Douglas.