Joe Douglas was a man on a mission Tuesday.
The Hanford senior was not to be denied from winning his first playoff game, setting a career high in points and showing that he is the best player in the Mid-Columbia Conference.
He virtually accomplished all three, pouring in a career-high 35 points and pulling down 12 rebounds to lead the Falcons to a 69-66 victory against visiting Mt. Spokane in a District 5/8 Tournament elimination game.
"My coach told me I didn't get MVP of the league, and I wanted to prove I'm the best," Douglas said. "I did it for my teammates and my school and to help us win."
With the win, Hanford will play at home 7 p.m. Friday againast Rogers of Spokane. The winner of that will play the Shadle Park/University loser Saturday for a regional berth.
On Tuesday, Douglas carried his teammates, scoring 20 first-half points and hitting big baskets all night long, often with Mt. Spokane defenders draped over him.
"He carried us," Hanford coach Paul Mayer said. "Every time we needed a basket, he was there for us."
Douglas was relentless on the offensive glass, pulling down seven offensive rebounds as he would not be denied. He bested his previous career high of 29 points, making 14 field goals and seven free throws.
"I just stayed on the boards and just kept going for it," he said. "The shots were falling for me in the end. It's a great feeling and I'm looking forward to many more (playoff victories) on the way to Tacoma."
If Douglas continues to play like he did Tuesday, there is a very good chance the Falcons could be headed to the west side for the state tournament.
Just getting a tournament victory was important for the Falcons, though. The last three seasons they had lost in this round -- falling by a single point each time.
"Every year we say redemption, redemption," Hanford guard Jalen DeVine said, "and we finally got it. It's nice to finally get past it."
In a tight, back-and-forth affair Tuesday, it seemed like another close loss might be in store again.
Hanford held a 65-63 lead with 1 minute, 20 seconds left, but a defensive stand and then a big play by DeVine helped give the Falcons a cushion.
DeVine broke a full-court trap and aggressively went to the basket, spinning in a layup while he was fouled for a 68-63 lead with 1:11 to go.
"I was off the first half, but this is my last playoff game and I had to stay aggressive," DeVine said. "I was taking it to the hole and they weren't falling, but it fell that time. That was a big play."
The game wasn't quite over yet, though, as Mt. Spokane guard Chris Reis was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He made all three free throws to make it 68-66. Hanford's Jalen Watson then made a free throw, but Douglas missed a pair giving the Wildcats one final shot at sending the game to overtime.
Jordan Weems' contested 3-point attempt rimmed off, though, and Hanford finally got past the first round of the playoffs.
"This is a big win for us," Mayer said. "Kind of a monkey off our backs."
DeVine finished with 10 points and four rebounds, while Jalen Watson had 11 points and four boards.
Tanner Kissinger's 15 points led four Mt. Spokane players in double figures. The Wildcats' chances were dampened when Stu Stiles went out with an ankle injury early in the third quarter. Stiles finished with 12 points.
MT. SPOKANE -- Andrew Mendez 3 0-0 6, Stu Stiles 4 2-2 12, Chris Reis 2 5-6 10, Jeff Pierce 1 2-2 4, Jordan Weems 3 0-0 7, Tanner Kissinger 7 0-0 15, Grant Martin 5 0-0 10, Ben Pierce 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 9-10 66.
HANFORD -- Joe Douglas 14 7-12 35, Jalen Watson 4 1-2 11, Matt Jones 1 0-2 2, Brennan Sutey 3 0-0 6, Jalen DeVine 4 1-1 10, Brady Heid 1 2-2 5, Thomas Hannu 0 0-0 0, Kendall Watson 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 11-19 69.
Mt. Spokane 16 18 19 13 -- 66
Hanford 14 20 18 17 -- 69
3-point goals--Mt. Spokane 6 (Stiles 2, Reis 2, Weems, Kissinger), Hanford 4 (J. Watson 2, DeVine, Heid). Rebounds -- Mt. Spokane 35 (Mendez, Kissinger 7), Hanford 31 (Douglas 12). Blocks--Hanford 2. Turnovers--Mt. Spokane 10, Hanford 9. Fouls--Mt. Spokane 17, Hanford 12.