“We had some breakdowns defensively,” Reed coach Dustin Hall said. “Our help ‘D’ wasn’t very good that second half and neither was our transition ‘D’. For a couple of minutes, we stopped kind of trusting what we do. I thought our post defense was good. Where we got beat was on the ball. Our help wasn’t very good. They had a lot of bounce passes around the rim for layups. I thought we did a pretty good job of our post defense and down inside. We just got beat in transition. You have to give credit to Douglas. They’re a great team.”
With the Tigers holding a slight 28-24 edge at halftime, the game looked as though it would come down to whoever had the ball last.
Three-pointers from senior guards A.J. Silva and Kyle Ross helped pull Reed within a basket of Douglas as the scoreboard read 34-32 with 4:54 remaining on the third quarter clock. Unfortunately for Raider Nation, that was the closest the Blue and Gold would come to reaching the North’s championship game.
Douglas’ Hunter Myers drained a triple from the top of the arc to silence the short-lived Raider comeback attempt, sparking a 13-5 burst that handed the Tigers the first double-digit advantage of the game at 47-37 with the final quarter remaining.
Over the first two minutes of the fourth, Douglas pushed its lead to 54-43 with 5:34 to play. Then Douglas got a steal and layup from point guard Connor Hughes, capping a run of six unanswered DHS points and putting the game virtually out of reach with the Tigers up 60-43 with just over three minutes left on the clock.
Five quick Raider points kept some slim Reed hopes alive, but clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch secured the championship berth for the Tigers.
“Reed’s a great team and I thought in the first half they did a good job,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “They messed with us a little bit in the first quarter. We did a couple things that just weren’t smart. Their pressure hurt us a little bit in that first quarter and once we started getting through it, we were good to go. Our kids finally started getting it inside. I thought once we handled that, we were fine getting it inside and taking good shots.”
The game was back-and-forth throughout the first half. After Reed scored the first four points of the game, Douglas strung together a 16-5 run to jump out to a 16-9 lead. Two quick buckets within 13 seconds of each other by the Raiders (13-9) cut the deficit to 16-13 at the end of the opening quarter.
A deep trey from senior guard Dylan McKenzie capped off a quick 6-2 spurt by the Raiders that gave them a 19-18 lead with 4:51 left in the second quarter. The lead would prove to be Reed’s last of the game.
Five straight traded buckets between the two clubs tied the score at 24-24 before the Tigers closed out the first half with the final two baskets to take a four-point lead into the break.
Reed was led by McKenzie who finished with 16 points. The other two seniors on the team, Ross and Silva, both chipped in with 10 points apiece. The Raiders shot 22-of-60 (36.7 percent.) for the game.
Myers led the Tigers (20-9) with a game-high 20 points. Senior guard Nick Maestretti and Hughes added 14 points and 13 points, respectively. Douglas dominated the glass, out-rebounding the undersized Raiders 31-16. Douglas also ended the night 28-of-50 (56 percent) from the field.
Despite the tough loss, Hall said he is still proud of his team.
“Our kids battled for 32 minutes. A few shots go in, a couple shots around the rim drop, maybe it’s a different story. I’m still proud of our kids,” he said. “They competed for 32 minutes. We talked in the locker room about the fact that we got back into the playoffs and got a win for the first time in a while. I couldn’t be prouder.”
For Reed, the Raiders will lose a trio in McKenzie, Ross, and Silva that was a key part to their run.
“We have three seniors who stuck it out and played four years,” Hall said. “They started as freshman. There were 13 kids on the freshmen team and only three of them made it as seniors. They’ve grown up a lot. There’s been bumps along the road with each and every one of them, like most kids. They stuck it out though and put up with my stuff and I’m just proud of them. I think they’re ready to go out and be successful people … I’m just proud of what they’ve done and the whole group just putting Reed basketball back on the map and making it relevant. At the end of the day, I couldn’t be more proud of my kids.”