When Douglas County coach Hollis Bethea reviewed film from his team’s 28-point win over Langston Hughes from two weeks ago, he was astonished about the winning margin.
The Tigers turned a close game into a blowout on their home court in winning the Region 3-AAAAAA contest in late January.
Bethea expects a much closer contest tonight when the teams meet in the nightcap of the region tournament at Langston Hughes.
When the team’s met on that same court in early December, Douglas County was able to escape with a 64-62 win.
“Playing Langston Hughes will be a challenge for our team,” Bethea said. “Langston Hughes played us tough in both games. They always play us hard. That second game score wasn’t a reflection of how the game went. We made a couple late runs.”
There is a lot at stake when he team meet in the 8:30 p.m. tournament game. The winner clinches a state playoff berth and advances to the region semifinals to meet Pebblebrook on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
“It is an exciting time of the year for basketball because you have the state tournament that you are playing for,” said Douglas County guard Brandon Robinson, who is averaging a team-high 23 points per game.
“For us it is win or go home right now,” Tigers point guard Reece Anderson said. “Any team that you play right now is going to be good. We just have to lock in and be ready to play.”
The Tigers are the No. 3 seed in the region after finishing behind regular-season champion Westlake and runner-up Pebblebrook, the defending champion and state finalist from a season ago.
But right now, the focus is on getting past tournament host Langston Hughes.
Douglas County finished with a 15-9 record and 10-4 mark in the region with two losses to Pebblebrook, a loss to Westlake and Campbell.
All but one of the team’s other losses came against teams from out-of-town in tournaments. The Tigers are hoping that playing a national schedule will help them advance through the region and eventually the state tournament.
Douglas County has played four teams ranked No. 1 in their respective state.
“I think it is a big advantage for us playing this type of schedule,” Bethea said. “Not many teams have played that type of schedule. We are a lot better team now than we were at the beginning of the season. We realize what our objective on the season is now, and we are playing towards that goal.”
“I could have easily put together a very easy schedule,” he said. “I wanted some thing that would challenge the team and prepare us for this time of year. We weren’t really worried about the wins and losses this season, but we were trying to get better with each game.”