SPORTS: Neah Bay's Drexler Doherty grows into more complete player
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Matt Schubert/Peninsula Daily News
Neah Bay senior basketball star Drexler Doherty led the Red Devils to their third state tournament trip in four years. He was also the Peninsula's leading scorer this season.

By Matt Schubert
Peninsula Daily News

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NEAH BAY — There was no need for an alarm clock in Drexler Doherty's neighborhood.

His steady dribble pounded the blacktop each morning on the “Church Court” across the street from his Neah Bay home.

A grade-school-aged basketball junky with serious ambitions, the Red Devils' future star rarely missed an opportunity to get a few shots before school.

While he chucked up shot after shot at the modest outdoor rims, another day dawned on the edge of the Earth, and his neighbors rose to the sounds of one child's hoop dreams.

“I'd wake up at 6 every morning and go shoot for probably an hour or hour and a half before I went to school,” said Doherty.

“I had a fifth-grade teacher who lived right across the street from me. He said that's how he used to wake up for school in the morning.
He'd hear my basketball going.”

All of these years later, Doherty's basketball aspirations are still there.

On Thursday, Doherty sank 18 points, including six points in the final moments, to spark the Neah Bay boys basketball team to the Class 1B state semifinals.

The Red Devils shocked red-hot Rosalia 49-41 in the quarterfinals at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

This will be Neah Bay's first trip to the state semifinals since 1986.

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After starting for the Neah Bay varsity each of the past four seasons, Doherty has cemented himself as one of the program's all-time top scorers.

Doherty has led the North Olympic Peninsula in scoring each of the past three season, and is averaging a career-high 22.4 points per game this year.

Earlier this season, he became the eighth Red Devil to top the 1,000-point plateau.

He will likely finish his somewhere among the school's top five in career scoring by the time the season is over.

Yet, according to first-year Red Devils head coach Gerrad Brooks, it is Doherty's growth in other areas of his game that make him so dangerous this year.

“He's really been able to create shots for others this year,” Brooks said of Doherty, who averages 3.1 assists per game this year as an off guard.

“He's done a good job of not only scoring but getting other people opportunities to score as well, and defensively he gets after it.”

Indeed, Doherty led the team with 3.2 steals per game while operating at the top of the full court press.

He also improved on what was considered his greatest bugaboo in years past: poor shot selection.

Just a year ago, Doherty averaged 20.6 field goal attempts per game while hitting just 35 percent of them.

That included a 27.3-percent clip from 3-point range (42 of 154) that pointed to a shoot-first mentality.

While his shot attempts have remained about the same this year (20.0 per game), he's shot 41.0 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from distance.

Much of that has to do with the quality of shots he's taken the season.

“Getting my team involved a lot more is probably the main thing I've worked on throughout high school,” said Doherty, who is making his third trip to state.

“I can just tell when I'm getting my teammates involved.

“The way they present themselves during a game, if they are getting the ball enough, then they are going to be hustling still, making all the plays.”

Doherty's growth in those areas comes months after he began the season in street clothes because of eligibility issues.

He failed to keep his grades up during the first quarter of his senior year, forcing him to sit out the first five weeks of the season.

It was the second year in a row that he missed a chunk of the season.

As a junior, he took leave from the team for the birth of his daughter, Sariah, in January.

Now, like any other parent, he sometimes wakes up at 3 a.m. to help take care of her.

Not exactly the typical life of a high school senior.

But Doherty makes no excuses.

“It makes it a little bit harder [being a student and a dad], but I still shouldn't be failing my classes,” Doherty said.

Doherty still hopes to play college basketball in the future, and would prefer to play somewhere close to home so he can be with his family
on the weekends.

Among the schools he'd consider playing for is Peninsula College in Port Angeles.

Brooks, a former college player himself, said there's no reason Doherty can't succeed at the next level.

“His basketball IQ and his ability he has now will get him in the door,” said Brooks, who played at Barton College in North Carolina.

“I hope he gets an opportunity to progress his game. He can definitely help teams.”

Last modified: March 04. 2011 1:50AM
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