Reed executed time and again in breaking down the Spanish Springs defense and the result was a 74-64 Raiders win at SSHS in High Desert League prep basketball action.
The RHS club was just getting a full roster because the school’s players, who also suited up for its football team, were eligible to play for the first time following the Raiders recent deep playoff run on the gridiron.
“It’s nice to have some depth,” Reed coach Dustin Hall said. “And that’s one thing this group has. It’s a lot easier for me to make subs when I know there’s not going to be a big drop-off. It’s just great.”
The Raider football players turned hoopsters didn’t miss a beat. Nine of the 12 players on Reed’s roster found the scoring column. Seven players now on the Reed roster played football. The east Sparks school had to get by with a hodge podge of JV stringers and a few varsity leftovers as it got through the first two weeks of the season.
“I felt like the whole culture changed when our football players came back,” said Reed’s senior guard Dylan McKenzie, who dropped four 3-point bombs Tuesday en route to finishing with 20 points. “Those guys came back and competed. Everyone wants to work hard now. The environment just changed.”
On Tuesday, the game changed — in Reed’s favor after the break. The Rail City rivals were deadlocked at 25-25 at the intermission, but Reed won both the third and fourth quarters, gradually pulling away for the 10-point win.
“I’m really disappointed in the way we defended,” Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. “We couldn’t guard the ball and then we couldn’t help or rotate. We had guys on different pages.”
Reed took a 51-46 lead into the final quarter. The two teams traded buckets to open the fourth quarter, leaving the scoreboard to read 53-48. Spanish Springs was never that close again. Reed scored the next seven points, a run capped by a McKenzie trey. That pushed the Raiders’ edge to double digits for the first time in the game, 60-48.
The Cougars had a little bit of fight left. They trimmed the margin to eight twice, the last coming at 68-60 with 1:53 remaining in the contest, following a Connor Naisbitt layup. Reed iced its victory by responding to score six of the next eight points.
“In the second half I thought we broke their pressure pretty well for some good buckets but then we’d turn around and let them score. And it wasn’t anything special. We’d just get beat by one guy,” Penney said.
“We didn’t execute. Our guards need to get a lot better. They need to get better shooting, with their decisions and especially on defense. That’s where it needs to start. We had guys running into each other, because we did not execute our team concepts.”
After being knotted at halftime, the rivals were still tied up, 36-36, midway through the third period. Reed put together a modest 6-0 spurt and it never trailed or was tied again.
Spanish Springs led 6-0 at the halfway point of the first period, but Reed did not panic. The Raiders had the game tied at 12s at the conclusion of the initial quarter. Neither team led by more than four in the second period en route to the halftime tie.
Brandon Delong scored 14 of his game-high 21 points after halftime. Jake Longero contributed 12 points for the host Cougars but was the only other Spanish Springs player to hit for double figures in the scoring column.
“Delong is going to get his,” Hall said. He’s definitely one of the best players in the North. But I thought we played him pretty well. He missed some shots early that he usually makes, but he averages almost 28 and we held him to 21. So that’s pretty good.”
In addition to McKenzie’s 20, Reed got 14 points from A.J. Silva and 11 more from Kyle Ross.
Spanish Springs (5-3, 1-2) returns to the hardwood Friday for a 7:30 p.m. matchup against league foe McQueen. Reed (2-3, 2-0) is off until Tuesday when it gets its first home game of the winter campaign, against Wooster at 7:30 p.m.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Hall said. “We got that league win last week at Carson and I was proud of them. And then we get this win tonight. I just couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.
“There are a lot of bright spots, but we still have a long way to go.”