PREPS: Manogue holds off Douglas boys

For a few brief moments, everything the Douglas boys' basketball team had been working toward was within reach.

And then, it wasn't.

The Manogue Miners did what they do best - hit 3-pointers and make their free-throws - as they pulled away late with a 56-43 win to claim its second regional title in as many years at Carson High School Saturday night.

The Tigers fought back from a double-digit deficit at halftime to tie it up early in the fourth quarter, but Manogue pulled away - hitting 15 of 16 free throws down the stretch and limiting the Tigers to just one field goal over the final four minutes of the game.

"Obviously, you always wish you played better, especially in the regional championship," Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. "Manogue played very well, made a couple adjustments inside and that was it.

"Our kids battled the entire game. I'm so proud of all our guys. They worked so hard every day and they just had this never-give-up attitude. It's a good thing for our program. I know it's a loss, but these seniors laid a great foundation for us and got us going in the right direction."

Douglas jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the first four minutes of the game, but Manogue shifted into a zone defense and promptly went on a 13-0 run over the next four.

The Miner zone held Douglas to just two field goals over the final 12 minutes of the half and Manogue closed the half out on an 8-0 run to take a 27-13 lead into the locker rooms.

"We knew they had a zone," Thacker said. "We'd seen it on film and prepared for it.

"In the first half, we just didn't attack it like we wanted to. They got us down with it."

The Miners held Douglas to just two points out of its talented forwards, but Hunter Myers got Douglas going early in the third quarter when he slammed home a back-door alley-oop pass from Theo Denson.

The dunk got the Tiger crowd back in the game and Douglas rode the momentum to a 20-6 run.

Manogue snuck into the fourth quarter with a 35-33 lead, but Myers tied the game up with a layup in the second minute of the final quarter.

Manogue's Brennan Hogan, who finished with a game-high 22 points, came right back with a 3-pointer in what would turn out to be the final go-ahead basket with 6:32 left.

Manogue only hit four field goals in the second half, all of them 3-pointers. Nine of the Miner's 12 field goals in the game were 3-pointers.

"They have a lot holes that we just didn't take advantage of," Thacker said. "They're going to knock down their 3s. That's all they do. That's the thing we know we can adjust to, we just didn't execute."

Austin Neddenriep cut the score to 38-36 with a free-throw, but Ethan Dillard hit what would be Manogue's last field goal of the game - a 3-pointer - with 4:32 left.

Matt Thomas cut the score to 41-38 with a layup at 4:16, but Douglas would get no closer.

The Tigers managed only one more field goal, a 3-pointer from Neddenriep with a minute left, while Manogue milked the 3-point lead for nearly two minutes with its delay offense.

"We couldn't get the shots we wanted," Thacker said. "Manogue did a really good job defensively. We finally made those adjustments we were looking for from the first half, but you have to give them credit for figuring it out."

Douglas had to start fouling to stop the clock after Manogue successfully ran it down to 2:35.

From there, the Miners made 15-of-16 free throws to pull away with the regional crown.

Dillard finished with 13 points and Niles Lujan added 12.

The Tigers were led by Neddenriep with 18 points. Denson had 12 points, Myers had nine and Chris Downs and Matt Thomas each had two.

For Douglas, it was an abrupt end to a wildly-successful season.

The Tigers advanced to the regional title for the third time in five years and handed Manogue its first Sierra League loss in 41 games two weeks ago.

Douglas picked up at least one win over every team in the Northern 4A and even posted an impressive win over Clovis North, the team coached by former Tiger head man Rob Streeter, at a tournament in California.

"You have to give the kids credit for battling." Thacker said. "That's all you can ask. They do everything in practice, everything in boards, scouting reports, then they come out and play.

"Tying up after being down double-digits. I'm just proud of how they responded."


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