MINDEN - The Hug Hawks hadn't led since early on, but after narrowing a 12-point halftime deficit to two with less than three minutes remaining, they had all the momentum in the world on their side.
Jeff Nady rumbled along the baseline with a layup to give the Douglas boys' basketball team a little breathing room with 2:55 left but the Hawks left Tiger senior Kevin Emm unmarked on the next trip down the floor.
Emm didn't even flinch, catching the kick-out and knocking down a 3-pointer to put Douglas up 66-59, swaying the momentum back in the Tigers' favor on their way to a 75-65 win in Minden Tuesday night.
"That was a game-changer," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. "Hug got caught in a little mistake and we found Kevin in the corner. That was big."
Emm's shot, coupled with two 3-pointers from junior James McLaughlin, helped Douglas hold off a big rally from the feisty Hawks.
"James hit some big shots too," Thacker said. "We got them when we needed them tonight."
The win propelled Douglas to a 6-1 record in league play, completing the first go-around of the Sierra League. The Tigers pick right back up with rematches at Wooster Friday and at home against Carson Saturday.
While Emm and Nady provided the late spark, Tiger senior post-player Jeff Nady was the steady hand all night, scoring a game-high 25 points.
David Laird also had a big game, capitalizing on strong cuts inside throughout to put up 16 points. McLaughlin finished with 13.
Hug got double-digits out of four players as Brian Bennett led the team with 13, Duke Williams and Adam Williams each had 12 and Courtney Gardner finished with 11.
Douglas appeared to be ready to pull away with the win after the first half, outscoring the Hawks 19-10 in the first quarter and extending that to 36-24 by halftime.
Hug came out with a stingy full-court press, however, and clawed its way back into the game.
"We knew they'd press," Thacker said. "It was just a matter of making sure we took care of the ball. We knew what we had to do, but sometimes we just didn't do it tonight."
Hug also gave the Tigers fits with its slashers, as the Hawks opened the third quarter on a 9-3 run.
"Because they're so athletic, they get to the rim and throw up a lot of shots," Thacker said. "If we're not blocking out, they're going to get some tips. We just didn't block out very well. They had over 15 offensive rebounds. A team that is active will do that to you."
The Hawks narrowed the margin to five by the end of the third quarter as Douglas carried a 48-43 lead into the fourth.
"We didn't want to slow it down, really," Thacker said. "It was just a matter of running our stuff and making sure we do the little things right. We wanted to look to attack and make good decisions."
Hug got within two with 3:57 left but McLaughlin hit his second 3-pointer to give the Tigers some room to work with.
The Hawks, however, kept slashing and got to the line to sink three foul shots to close the score back down to two at 61-59, setting up Emm's 3-pointer.
The Tigers got baskets from Laird and McLaughlin sandwiched around a pair of free throws from Hug's Bennett (who ended up going 6-for-6 from the line in the fourth), before the Hawks had to start fouling to attempt to preserve the clock.
Douglas capitalized, however, hitting 5-of-6 down the stretch to take the 10-point win.