SPARKS - It played out exactly like the Douglas girls basketball team's last seven or eight matchups with perennial powerhouse Reed High School.
The defending state champions built a big lead through the first half in the first round of the Northern Division I playoffs in Sparks Wednesday night, aided by tough inside points and some key outside shots. On the other side, Douglas struggled to find a rhythm with its half court offense and suffered the consequences on the scoreboard.
Trailing 22-5 coming out of halftime, and with nothing to lose, the Lady Tigers came out in an aggressive full-court defense and completely erased the deficit over the following two quarters.
Douglas had two chances to score the go-ahead points in the final 40 seconds of regulation, but Reed survived in overtime to escape with a 47-43 win.
"We came in at halftime and the kids were kind of waiting to see what we would say," Douglas coach Werner Christen said. "We'd told them it was time to basically throw the kitchen sink at Reed. We wanted to run our 55 full-court and the kids understood that's what it was going to take if we had any chance to get back into this thing."
Douglas was strong on defense through the first half, holding the potent Reed offense to just eight points in the first quarter and 14 in the second quarter. Reed, though, was better defensively, posting a shutout through the first 10 minutes of the game.
A put-back from Leonna Mortimer and a 3-pointer from McKenna Kynett ended up being the entirety of the Douglas offense for the first half.
"We had nothing to build on at halftime, except that we were doing well on defense," Christen said. "We might have been a little too careful. Holding them to 22 at the half, that's pretty good. The problem was us scoring five.
"This team, we're a team that needs the defense to create the offense. We've said it all year and we didn't have them in the right position to do that in the first half."
It changed in a big way to start the second half.
Senior Ericka Munoz stole the ball 20 seconds into the third quarter and pushed the ball down court to Corryne Millett, who converted the lay-up.
"That steal was huge for setting the tone for the second half," Christen said. "Ericka Munoz had the best game of her career tonight. She didn't want it to end yet. None of these girls did."
Munoz finished with just one point, but made her presence felt on the defensive side of the ball throughout.
She was in on forcing turnovers on Reed's next four possessions as Millett added two more lay-ups around a Diana Regalado jumper to stretch out an 8-0 run. Munoz also had a number of deflections that her teammates were able to corral.
Also big in the second half for Douglas was Katie McCullough who scored three points in a 60-second span late in the third that pulled Douglas to within one.
Reed managed a single free throw over the first seven minutes of the half as Douglas outscored the Raiders 17-3 to cut the score to 25-22 heading into the fourth.
The teams traded points through the first three minutes of the final period but Reed stretched out a seven-point lead with 2:45 remaining, appearing ready to walk away with the win.
That's when Tiger guard Kelly Sonnemann caught fire from outside, hitting 3-pointers on two consecutive trips down the floor.
"Kudos to Kelly Sonnemann," Christen said. "She was not afraid to shoot it and she hit some big shots there."
Regalado added a basket with 1:51 left and Sonnemann and Leonna Mortimer each hit a pair of free throws to knot the score at 39 with 1:13 remaining.
Both teams had chances to set up for a final shot in the final minute, but opposing defenses proved to be too much in every case. Time ran out on regulation without either team mustering a shot.
Reed scored the first four points of overtime, and though McCullough and Regalado came up with baskets in the first three minutes to keep the Raiders from putting the game away, Reed had an answer to every Douglas point.
Regalado's basket had cut Reed's lead to 45-43, and Douglas had a chance to tie on a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left but the Tigers couldn't convert them.
Reed sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 8 seconds left.
Reed's Tyler Sumpter led all scorers with 21 points. Nakiyah Lesure added 16.
Millett and Sonnemann each had 10 for Douglas. Regalado finished with eight, McCullough had seven, Mortimer had four and Kynett had three.
"For our younger kids, this game was a huge building block for our future," Christen said. "It gave them that taste of what it's like. It also showed them where they need to be and what they need to do if they want to get there.
"For our seniors, bottom line, I've never had a more unselfish group. The seniors took the youngest team we've ever had and brought them along and set the example.
"Diana, Desiree Cage, Ericka, they carried this team like no seniors I've had since we won the region in 2002. I've never had a team, an upper class quite like this one."