By DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal News Service
RENO - Douglas High girls' basketball coach Werner Christen credits the team's 1-3-1 zone defense for a lot of the success the program has enjoyed the past several years.
"That has been the bread and butter for us," Christen said. "It's won us a lot of games the past three years."
And, it was largely responsible for another big win in the first round of the 4A zone playoffs Wednesday night, as the visiting Tigers held Galena to a 28 percent mark from the floor en route to a 50-38 victory.
The victory, Douglas' 19th of the season, sends the Tigers into the semifinals against division rival Reno Friday at 6:20 p.m. at Spanish Springs High School. The winner of that game advances to the zone finals and gains a berth in the state tournament.
"They definitely picked up the intensity in the second half, and I don't think we did," said Galena coach Karen Friel, whose team was outscored 36-21 in the final two periods. "We couldn't hit our shots. I don't think we attacked it (the 1-3-1) very well. They do a nice job with it."
The Tigers did a nice job containing the Grizzlies' Caitlin Anderson, who finished with 15 on 7-for-14 shooting, which was a few points below her league average. Anderson did get blocked a few times by Julie Gingrich, and she was saddled with four fouls for most of the second half.
"She scored 15 and they were very hard-earned points," Friel said. "She had to work hard for everything she got."
Douglas also picked up the pace offensively, knocking down 10 of its 20 second-half attempts from the floor. It was a far cry from the effort in the first half when the Tigers were only 6 for 21 from the floor and trailed 17-14 after the first 16 minutes.
"Both teams looked tight the first half, and it looked like beginning basketball," Christen said. "There was no rah-rah speech at the half. I just told them to relax and get back to basics. We didn't make a lot of adjustments. We missed some defensive assignments in the first half which led to easy baskets."
The Grizzlies held their three-point lead for the first two-plus minutes of the second half, but after that the roof caved in.
Douglas went on a 11-0 run in the next 1-minute 53-seconds to take a 29-21 lead with 3:05 left in the period. Brittany Puzey snuck inside for two quick buckets after Galena turnovers, and freshman Dana Pardee scored five straight points, including a hard-earned three-point play. Tammy Gough capped the rally with her only basket of the game.
"She (Pardee) definitely stepped it up tonight," junior guard Erin Brinkmeyer said. "She was very impressive."
"That (run) was very frustrating to me," Friel said. "We knew what they were going to do and it still happened. Some of it is our youth. They don't pay attention sometimes."
Armed with a seven-point lead (32-25) after three periods, the Tigers went on a 9-2 run to increase their lead to 41-27 with 3:42 left in the game. Gingrich, who led the Tigers with 16 points started the surge with a three-pointer and finished it with a layup. Brinkmeyer, who finished with 15, scored the other four points in the run.
That should have finished the Grizzlies, but it didn't. Anderson, scoring on a putback and a trey, sparked an 11-3 Galena run that cut the Douglas lead to seven inside the final minute. Brinkmeyer went 4-for-4 from the line and Gingrich hit both of her attempts from the charity stripe in the final 36 seconds to put the game on ice.
Brinkmeyer said the fact that several of the players have playoff experience enabled the Tigers to maintain their poise down the stretch.
"We're used to it down in Douglas," she said. "A couple of us have been there before."
And now, the Tigers must go up against Reno for the third time this season. The Huskies own two double-digit wins over the Tigers. Cory Nelson, one of the Huskies' top players, has an ankle injury and isn't expected to play on Friday.
"We don't know that," Christen said. "She's a great kid. I'd hate to see her not be able to play. We have to play well. They're a great team."
Brinkmeyer doesn't believe the Huskies are a vulnerable team without Nelson.
"They're still Reno, and they've beaten us twice," Brinkmeyer said. "Zone is different because everybody comes to play and play hard."
Notes: This is the second straight year that Douglas has knocked off a higher-seeded team on the road. Last season, the fourth-seeded Tigers upset No. 1 Reed in Sparks ... Gingrich and freshman Colleen Carlson collected six rebounds apiece. Anderson led Galena with nine rebounds.