Douglass coach John Nash knew his team wouldn't be as sharp as it should be in the first round of the Class 3A, Region III state playoff last night at Centennial High.
"We haven't played a game since Feb. 5," Nash said. "No one would play us."
But after a first half controlled by Centennial, the Ducks jelled in the third quarter and went on to a 59-57 victory.
The Ducks put together a 17-3 run in the third quarter, going from a 34-25 deficit to a 42-37 lead.
Rodney Gunter (25 points) scored eight points during that run and was the game's high scorer. Centennial's Damian Biggs, who made a three-pointer at the final buzzer, scored 22 points.
"We played a sloppy first half and then in the third quarter we realized we were in a ballgame," Nash said.
Led by Mike Braxton and Troy Luster, fifth-seeded Douglass (10-8) dominated fourth-seeded Centennial (17-6) on the boards down the stretch.
Centennial led 52-47 following Biggs' jumper with 2:30 left in the game.
A steal and layup by Gunter made it 52-49 with 2:02 left.
After one free throw by Centennial's Mark James, Braxton put up three straight shots before scoring on a layup that pulled Douglass within two points.
Centennial missed a one-and-one and Luster tied the game 53-53 on a layup with 51 seconds left.
Gunter then scored off a fast break on which the Eagles failed to cover and the Ducks took a 55-53 lead with 32 seconds left.
When Centennial missed another one-and-one opportunity, Douglas got the rebound.
The Ducks gave Centennial chances by missing two one-and-ones of their own in the final 30 seconds, but both times, Douglass came away with the rebounds.
With Douglass ahead 57-54 and 12 seconds left, Luster made a crucial rebound, ripping it away from Biggs and putting it back for a basket that made it 59-54. Biggs' three-pointer at the buzzer accounted for the final margin.
Douglass took 23 more shots than Centennial, shooting 23-for-59 from the field. Centennial shot 17-for-36 from the field.
Douglass forced Centennial into 17 turnovers, most of them on steals.