Douglas County traveled to take on county rival Alexander in a non-regional matchup Saturday night. The Lady Tigers pulled away late in a tightly contested battle, beating the Lady Cougars 74-65. The DC boys also came out with a win, leading from start to finish for an 85-67 victory.
The earlier game between the Lady Tigers and Lady Cougars went back and forth, with each team taking the others best shot. Alexander led 21-16 after the first quarter. Claudia Hester, one of the few seniors on the team, finished with a game-high 26 points. Brooke Nail was the other Lady Cougar in double figures with 12 points.
Douglas rallied in the second, going into halftime all tied up at 30 apiece. The Lady Tigers had three, double digit scorers. Santasia Faust had 20 points, Amira Atwater added 18, and Arsula Clark chipped in with 15.
Douglas outscored Alexander in the third, taking a 46-44 lead into the final quarter, but the Lady Cougars remained close until the final minutes of the game. After tying the game at 59 on Atara McGhaw’s layup with 3:15 left to play, Alexander was then outscored 10-0 in about a minute and a half. Atwater sparked the run, scoring eight points, including two 3’s, with one assist and two steals, which helped DC run away late with the game.
Head Coach Chet Forsh spoke on how he believed in Faust and Atwater, two of his more experienced players. Faust is a four-year starter and Atwater is a three-year starter.
“Those are our two most experienced players,” said Forsh “I felt they kept their composure. I told them, that as leaders, they are supposed to step up in tough situations, and I thought they did that tonight.”
With Forsh praising his team’s experience, Alexander Head Coach Adam Watts felt like his team’s youth was exposed.
“We have a lot of young kids and it showed a little,” said Watts. “You have to be mentally focused the whole 32 minutes and we were only in it for about 28.”
The Douglas County boys won with a little more ease than the girls. The Tigers started the game on a 10-0 run and never looked back. They used a fast pace game to jump out to the early lead, forcing two early turnovers and quickly converting it into easy fast break points.
“I think we just did a good job with our energy and effort from the very beginning of the game” said Head Coach Hollis Bethea. “That start helped us take over the game. Guys really played well, we were just ready to play tonight.”
Douglas County was led by K’Ja Johnson, who finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assist, for the first triple-double of his career. Kalen Clifton added 13 points and Corey Tillery chipped in with 12 for the Tigers. Brandon Robinson, returning from a high ankle sprain, added eight points.
Alexander trailed 21-13 after the first quarter, then was down 41-29 at the half. Though the Cougars trailed the entire game, they made a run late in the third quarter to get within eight points, 52-44. With the ball and the chance to cut it to six, or potentially five, with a 3-pointer, Alexander missed five consecutive close range shots. The Cougars was unable to get any closer the rest of the game. Douglas took a 58-46 lead into the fourth.
“Five offensive rebounds and we can’t convert one,” said Head Coach Jason Slate. “If you are going to beat a team of that caliber you have to make plays. And I think the better team made plays and the team that got beat did not.”
Douglas began the fourth quarter just like they began the game, with a run. This time it was a 20-8 run, giving the Tigers a 24-point lead, 78-54, that put the game away. The stretch started with Tillery and Bryan Thomas hitting back-to-back 3’s, then Clifton converting a 3-point play.
“Winning this game is for bragging rights in the county, so it’s important,” said Bethea. “Alexander has been on top for a while and now we are the new kids on the block, and we’re just trying to win.”