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Manogue boys defend North hoop crown
by Dan Eckles
Feb 19, 2011 | 778 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Northern 4A's boys basketball championship came down to a rubber match between Sierra League rivals Bishop Manogue and Douglas. After the two teams split a pair of regular season meetings, Saturday's regional championship pitting the two foes did not figure to disappoint.

It did not, but in the end it was Manogue pulling away from Douglas in the fourth quarter and posting a 56-43 victory to successfully defend its Northern 4A championship.

The Miners (24-5), who have now won back-to-back regional titles, will open state tournament play in a 4A semifinal Thursday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Manogue's opponent and game time will be determined after a southern Nevada play-in game Monday.

"I'm so happy right now … If we'd have gotten hot and run away from them, that wouldn't have helped us prepare for next week," Manogue coach Bill Ballinger said. "I'd rather play good teams and close games all the way. This will help us when we go to Vegas.

"To repeat is not that big of a deal. The big deal is all those people out there who said these kids couldn't do it … These kids never bought into that."

Saturday's regional title tilt was tight with just over four minutes to remaining in the postseason affair, but Manogue dominated down the stretch to capture the double-digit victory.

Douglas post Matt Thomas dropped in a layup that pulled the Tigers (23-5) within three, 41-38 at the 4:24 mark of the fourth period. It got ugly from there for Douglas. The Minden school managed just four points the rest of the way while Manogue scored 15 in the final 2:35, all at the free-throw line.

The Miners final field goal came when Ethan Dillard nailed a 3-pointer at the 4:38 mark of the fourth. Thomas followed with his layup for Douglas and then Manogue proceeded to knock down 15 of 16 foul shots in crunchtime to ice the win.

“Obviously, you always wish you played better, especially in the regional championship,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “Manogue played very well, made a couple adjustments inside and that was it.

“Our kids battled the entire game. I'm so proud of all our guys. They worked so hard every day and they just had this never-give-up attitude."

Douglas led 6-3 midway through the first period, but then Manogue took control. Niles Lujan and Dillard both drained 3-pointers and Brennan Hogan dropped in a layup to key a 10-0 Miners spurt that put Reno's private Catholic school ahead, 13-6.

Manogue led 13-8 after one period and then firmly grabbed momentum by outscoring Douglas 14-5 in the second quarter. That left the Miners with a 27-13 advantage at the break.

Manogue coach Bill Ballinger, a staunch supporter of man-to-man defense, surprised many onlookers when his team featured long stretches of a zone scheme Saturday against Douglas.

"I made that decision, a month, three weeks ago, whatever it was after they beat us," Ballinger said. "We had some match-up problems and I said 'next time we see them, we'll play zone. If it's in the regional championship even better."

Douglas crept back into contention in the third period. The Tigers outscored the Miners 20-8 in the third and at the quarter's conclusion had trimmed the BMHS lead to two, 35-33.

Douglas scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, a layup from Hunter Myers with 6:56 showing on the game clock. The bucket deadlocked the score at 35-35, but that's as good as it got for the Tigers. They never took the lead and were never even tied again.

“We knew they had a zone,” Thacker said. “We'd seen it on film and prepared for it. In the first half, we just didn't attack it like we wanted to. They got us down with it.”

Hogan buried four 3-pointers and led all scorers on the night, pacing Manogue with 22 points. Dillard and Lujan contributed 13 and 12 to the winning cause.

Douglas' sharpshooting guard Austin Neddenriep led the Tigers in scoring with 18 points. Theo Densen was the only other DHS player in double digits, finishing with 12.
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