Despite a second-half rally, Douglas came up short and High Desert League champion Hug pulled out a 74-69 triumph in the regional final at Spanish Springs High School. The North title is Hug’s second in the last four years.
Douglas could not get much going offensively in the first nine-plus minutes of the tournament tilt. The Tigers scored the first bucket of the game but managed only four more through the rest of the first period.
Meanwhile, Hug got rolling. The Hawks had an 18-6 lead after one period of play and pushed it to 20-6 after center Sam Williams knocked down a jumper 11 seconds into the second quarter.
Hug stretched its lead to a game-high 16 points after Norris Dupree dropped a 3-point bomb at the 5:42 mark of the second quarter. Douglas struggled to cut into the Hug lead and found itself staring at a 40-26 halftime deficit.
“In the first half, it was all about our defense; we only gave up six points in the first quarter,” Hug coach Charles Walker said. “Our defense got us turnovers and some easy buckets. We just got it going defensively early.”
Hug held a 15-point lead, 45-30, after a Williams putback with 6:13 remaining in the third period. That’s when Douglas began to mount a comeback. The Tigers proceeded to outscore Hug 18-3 over the next four and a half minutes, the last 13 of those points were unanswered.
Douglas guard Jake Tessman dropped in a runner with 1:40 showing on the third period clock to knot the game at 48 apiece, marking the first time the game had been tied since 2-2, 30 seconds into the contest.
“We started playing good defense,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “We gave up 40 in the first half. If we had been ready to play to start the game, that would’ve really helped us out.”
Walker said defensive breakdowns hurt his club during the Douglas outburst.
“We just lost guys,” Walker said. “We gave up easy buckets, missed box outs. We knew they’d stay together and fight back. They’re a good team. They’d make a run.”
Hug wound up grabbing a 51-49 lead after three quarters and Douglas seemed to run out of gas. The Tigers were never able to pull ahead or tie the game again.
A layup by Douglas post Trevor Shaffer had Douglas down by three, 55-52 with 5:34 remaining in the championship final. Hug responded and scored nine of the next 11 points to forge ahead 64-54 with 2:50 still left.
“We didn’t get rattled in the fourth quarter,” Walker said. “We ran our sets. We didn’t stall, but we were more patient. We stopped taking quick shots.”
Douglas had one last-gasp effort left. A 12-4 Tigers run was capped by a Connor Hughes layup. That bucket got the DHS hoopsters within two, 68-66, with 35 ticks still left in the postseason affair.
Hug sealed the win by making 6 of 7 free throws in the final 30 seconds.
Hug’s Robin Dhatt led all scorers with 22 points. Andrew Johnson and Williams chipped in 18 and 15 to the Hawks’ winning cause, while Felix Cox added 10. Johnson had 16 of his points in the final nine minutes of the game.
“We knew Andrew would want the ball,” Thacker said. “And he made a couple tough shots that to his credit went down.”
Douglas was led by its junior big man, Hunter Myers, who poured in 19 points. Shaffer contributed 18 points and Tessman 10 in defeat.
The North’s top two teams still both advance to next week’s 4A State tournament, which will be played at the University of Nevada’s Lawlor Events Center Thursday and Friday.
Douglas (20-10) will play Bishop Gorman (26-4) in a state semifinal Thursday at 4:40 p.m. while Hug (22-3) will face Green Valley (17-12) at 8 p.m.