Mini-funk ends, Tigers run past Panthers

RENO - As North Valleys' Jesse Bajwa rolled an easy layup off his fingertips to give the Panthers a 33-32 lead with four minutes left in the first half Friday night, one couldn't help but feel that the Douglas boys' basketball team was in for another long night.

The Tigers, after all, were coming off an upset loss to Damonte Ranch on Tuesday night and a close-call in overtime against Carson last week.

The mini-funk, it would seem, ended there.

Douglas went on a 9-0 run over the last four minutes of the half and then went on a 14-5 run over the final four minutes of the game to pick up a 77-64 win over North Valleys in Reno.

"One of the main things we were talking about this week was not letting one loss turn into two," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. "We knew, coming in on the road against a team that traditionally shoots a lot of 3-pointers very well, that we would have to withstand their runs and score when we needed to."

Mission accomplished.

North Valleys led three times in the first half and cut the score to within two once in the second half, but each time the Tigers responded with an extended run to pull back out to a comfortable lead.

Senior center Jeff Nady had a career-high 32 points in the win, finishing 10-of-13 at the free-throw line.

"When we need to score, we have to get the ball inside to him," Thacker said. "Whether he scores or someone else, it's just so important to get that inside-outside motion going for our offense."

Case in point: After a Nady dunk put Douglas up 48-35 in the third quarter, he took a seat on the bench.

The Panthers responded with an 8-0 run in just one minute, cutting the score to 48-43.

Nady came back on the floor and scored the Tigers' final six points of the quarter. For the quarter, he scored 10 of Douglas' 13 points.

Not that he was the Tigers' only weapon in the game.

Three other starters finished in double figures as James McLaughlin scored 15 points, Kevin Emm scored 13 (including three 3-pointers) and David Laird had 11 points.

North Valleys came in with a much different game plan from the two teams' matchup in January when Douglas took a 70-48 win in Minden.

Panthers point guard Aaron Short, who missed the first game, upped the tempo considerably, and put up 20 points of his own -- most of which came in transition.

Mike Stephenson had 13 points and three 3-pointers to back Short up and Matt Drayton finished 11 for the Panthers.

"Today was more typical of their style of play," Thacker said. "They ran a lot more on us and did what they wanted to do. Our kids stepped up when they had to, though, and really did a good job."

Douglas clogged up the middle defensively and held Bajwa to just eight points (down from 19 in the first matchup). That forced the ball outside much more for North Valleys, where the Panthers were able to capitalize with seven 3-pointers as a team.

Forward Will Bell also had eight for the Panthers, including two 3-pointers.

Ross Bertolone had four points and Parker Robertson had two to round out the Tigers' scoring.

Douglas improved to 9-2 in league play with the win, setting up a crucial final week of the season with its final home game Monday against South Tahoe, a game at Hug Tuesday and a trip to play Reno Friday.

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