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Delong leads Cougars to upset of Tigers
by Michael Lingberg
Jan 25, 2011 | 985 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - SSHS junior forward Brandon Delong (in white) torched the Douglas defense for 41 points.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - SSHS junior forward Brandon Delong (in white) torched the Douglas defense for 41 points.
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For anyone who has played the video game 'NBA Jam', they already know that a player who hits so many shots in a row bursts into flames and cannot miss a shot after that. On Tuesday night, it looked like Spanish Springs junior forward Brandon Delong was engulfed in fiery hot flames as he went off for a school-record 41 points.

His outburst helped the Spanish Springs boys basketball team upset the Douglas Tigers 64-46 at home in a Northern 4A crossover league game.

Delong began his night by hitting a runner in the lane and then draining a three-point shot on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter. The score at that point was 12-7 in favor of the Cougars with 1:05 left in the first.

The second quarter started with a 10-0 SSHS run that began with Delong sinking two treys in that spurt. That's when he caught fire. He proceeded to score 18 of the next 20 Cougars points in the period and matched the boys from Minden point for point. The only Spanish Springs basket in that stretch, that came from a person not named Delong, was a dunk by Cougars center Phil Smith at the 6:18 mark. By halftime, Delong had racked up 27 points and was perfect from the foul line, going 10-for-10. The score at intermission was 36-25 with the hosts on top.

However, the Tigers weren't done. They pulled to within 38-31 thanks to a 5-2 mini run to begin the third quarter. Matt Thomas completed a 3-point play to cap off the run and the momentum seemed to shift in the direction of Douglas.

It did not. That was as close as the Tigers got as the boys in purple nailed a three to end the third quarter for a 45-32 lead.

Douglas hung around in the fourth to get everyone watching restless. The Tigers kept the gap to within 10 to 12 points throughout the period. Still, Douglas could get no closer than the 10-point margin.

The Tigers might have gained some ground if only Delong and the rest of the Cougars missed some free throws. Instead, Delong hit all 14 of his free throws in the second half and the SSHS squad sunk an impressive 32 of their 37 shots from the charity stripe for the game.

Delong missed every shot he took from the field in the second half but was still aggressive as he scored another 14 points from the line to finish with 41.

Cougars coach Kyle Penney was proud of his team's precision and especially of Delong's record-setting night.

"The kid came to play, obviously going 24-24 from the line, but the other guys did a good job of getting him open, setting screens, and he knocked the shots down, "Penney said. "He was on his game tonight. He cut when he needed to cut and he just knocked shots down. I've never had a kid go for 40 in 10 years of coaching."

Favored Douglas eventually lost by the final 18-point margin in a game many will remember. The loss was only the fourth for Douglas this winter against 16 wins.

"Our kids did a great job of listening, " Penney said. " We ran our offense when we needed to, which was great because we're usually pedal-to-the-metal. Tonight we had ball movement and I think we're better because of that."

The Cougars (9-11, 6-5) will put their modest two-game win streak on the line when they pay a visit to McQueen on Friday in an important High Desert League showdown. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. in northwest Reno.

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