By Joey Crandall
Sierra Nevada Media Group
Coming out of the gates in the second half, the Douglas boys' basketball team hit two consecutive baskets to pull out to a 17-point lead against Carson at Morse Burley Gym Friday night.
It had all the makings of quickly turning into a repeat of the first time the two teams met this year when Douglas plowed past the Senators 69-37.
But then Paul Cagle stepped in.
The Senators' stout postman with a slick outside shot hit hit three straight shots, including two 3-pointers, to pull the Senators back into the game trailing by nine points.
Douglas still pushed ahead for the 59-46 win Friday night, but the Senators managed to cut the deficit to seven before the Tigers put the game away with five late free throws.
"We were up by 17, but we weren't able to expand on it," Douglas coach Rob Streeter said. "We got away from getting the ball to the rim, got away from our game plan, but we still found a way to win. Getting a win here is always nice."
Cagle played a huge part in making things closer for the Senators, leading all scorers with 17 points and accounting for just less than half of Carson's scoring in the second half.
"At first we were going to invite him to shoot from outside there," Streeter said. "But he started knocking down those shots and we didn't get up to contest those like we should've."
For Carson coach Bruce Barnes, it seemed like the best way to create a mismatch against the much taller Tigers lineup.
"Douglas has so many different ways to hurt you," Barnes said. "We have to worry about (Mike) Gransbery up top, we have (Keith) Olson, we have to get to (Jeff) Nady. They have a lot of good players that cause a lot of trouble for us. We were looking for a mismatch if we could find one and Cagle happened to be it. He hit a couple shots and got us going there."
For their part, the Tigers did find a lot of different ways to hurt the Senators, getting 15 points from Nady, 12 points from Gransbery and 10 from David Laird. Olson finished with eight while Kevin Emm poured in seven.
"We felt like tonight we could use our outside shooters to draw them out of that packed zone they run inside," said Nady, who had 11 of his points in the second half. "Our goal was to spread their defense out and open up some room in the middle and that worked for us."
Douglas put together a slim 13-12 lead through first quarter, but opened the second with baskets from Nady, Gransbery and Emm to push it to 19-12.
Later in the quarter, Gransbery hit a 3-pointer to spark a 13-0 run to close out the half, which is essentially what proved to be the difference in the game.
After Cagle's outburst in the third, neither team could string together any substantial run until Carson built a 6-0 run with time dwindling in the game.
"We shut them down, down the stretch there for the most part," Barnes said. "Our guys competed, they played hard. The crowd was nice. All the pieces were there for us to get them but we couldn't get over the hump at the end."
Instead, Nady hit a basket to end the run and converted the front end of a pair of free throws to put the Tigers up by 10. The Senators wouldn't get any closer on the night.
Next up for Carson is Hug, making it the Senators' third game against a team ranked in the Sierra Nevada top four this week alone, having faced up against No. 3 Reno on Tuesday.
"This is probably the toughest week since I've been coaching here," Barnes said. "You get those three teams in a row with very little preparation time. It's awfully difficult, especially when the teams are so completely different.
"We had to deal with height tonight, we get quickness tomorrow. Every one of those teams has a superstar, so it's a tough stretch."
Will Holbert had 10 points for the Senators and Zach Weismann finished with six on the night.
Carson will host Hug tonight at 7 p.m.
Contact Joey Crandall at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.