MINDEN - Will Thomas and Seth Lee combined to score 33 points, plus they led a sticky zone defense that helped propel the Douglas High School boys basketball team to a 55-49 victory at home against McQueen on Friday night.
Lee scored 18 points, including a school single-game record 14-for-14 from the free throw line, while Thomas scored 15 and picked off three steals as the Tigers (4-2) came back from an 11-point first-half deficit to post their fourth straight win.
The win came against a McQueen team that is considered one of the best in the Northern 4A, however, it must be pointed out the Lancers have yet to put their full team together because of preseason injuries and a lengthy football season that ended last Saturday with a state 4A championship. Douglas coach Keith Lewis was still pleased with what he saw on the court.
"I'm so proud of the effort our kids gave in terms of the way they competed and the way they got after it," Lewis said. "It was a good team win.
"Of course, it does matter they were missing (6-5 guard Karl) Aaker and (6-5 Pat) Harrington. That's a good team; one of the best teams in the state, I believe."
McQueen coach Eric Swain made no excuses after watching his Lancers fall to 0-2 on the season.
"We just got out-competed tonight," Swain said. "I thought Douglas had a great plan that they came out and executed. They did a good job of adjusting and handling our pressure. They got us into a halfcourt game, and we're not nearly as successful in a halfcourt game as we are in an up tempo game."
Lee finished below his 25.2 season scoring average, largely because of the hounding defense of Chris Carr, a star running back for McQueen's football team and a four-year starter at point guard in basketball.
"Offensively, we struggled, but a lot of that was because of them," Lewis said. "Putting Chris Carr on Seth was a good coaching move on Eric's part.
"What was nice, on a night when Seth was shut down, some kids rose to the top and got the job done. That's huge because Seth is going to see a lot of that this season."
McQueen jumped out to a 17-6 lead midway through the first quarter, but then the defensive switch to zone seemed to inject new life into the Tigers.
"We got off to kind of a shaky start, the kids could have folded and panicked and they didn't," Lewis said. "We made the adjustment, which was a 3-2 zone. We needed to do something to nullify Carr's penetration and try to make him beat us from the outside, and I thought the kids flew around and played hard."
Douglas only trailed 28-24 at the intermission, setting the stage for a back-and-forth second half. Thomas fed Jared Kenison for an inside basket that gave the Tigers their first lead, 34-32 with 3:39 left in the third period, and Thomas fed Brian Turley for a buzzer-beating layup that tied the score 41-41 at the end of the period.
Erik Olson sank two free throws with 6:04 to go to put the Tigers on top 43-42. One minute later, Travis Baker rebounded and got the outlet pass to Lee, who drew a foul. Lee knocked down both free throws to make it 45-42, and the Tigers never lost control of the lead.
The Tigers shot 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the final period and 28-for-37 overall for the night. By comparison, the Lancers were only 7-for-17 from the line.
"Our free throw shooting down the stretch was huge. That's one of the things we told them before the game, that free throws were going to win the game," Lewis said.
Charles Colozzi led McQueen with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and J.J. Myatt had 10.
"It's early but we're going to see a lot of that, especially until Aaker comes back. When he comes back, we're a different team; he's a guy who has hit 170 3-pointers in two years. But we have guys who can step up and hit that shot, so there's no excuses, we just didn't get it done against their defense tonight."