The Railroaders faced the new and improved version of the Raiders Saturday and found out how different of a team Reed is now as the east Sparks school exacted some revenge and picked up a 70-59 home win.
“Sparks played very hard. They’re a good team. You can tell they’re well-coached,” Reed boys basketball coach Dustin Hall said. “It was a battle. Second half we had some guys come off the bench and made some plays for us. It was a good team win tonight.”
Sparks jumped out to an early lead thanks to superior shooting, but the Raiders’ style of play eventually took a toll on the visiting squad.
Reed subbed five players at a time. After the first line of reserves spelled the starters, the Raiders’ fresh legs wore down the Railroaders’ starters.
With Sparks leading 11-5, the Reed bench scored five unanswered. A Kyle Ross 3-pointer cut the deficit down to 11-10 with 4:14 to go in the first quarter.
The Maroon and Gold pushed its lead back up to five, 15-10.
However, Sparks couldn’t leave its starters in any longer. With 1:11 remaining in the first, Sparks pulled its starters to give them a breather for the rest of the period. That’s when Reed’s rested starters took advantage. The Railroaders’ substitutes could not handle the full-court press of the Raiders and the hosts scored the final seven points of the first quarter in a span of one minute and nine seconds.
“Reed wants to create a chaotic atmosphere and see if you can play to it. I think we did a pretty good job with that. At moments we lost our patience attacking their press,” Sparks basketball coach Dan Schreiber said. “For the most part, I thought we did a good job with it. There were some spots defensively that allowed that backside pass where they got some easy shots. That’s going to happen when you pressure that much against a team that has four or five scorers.”
Reed enjoyed a 17-15 edge after the first eight minutes of action and it continued to build on that. The Raiders held leads of nine points twice — the last being 29-20 on a Ross bucket at the 4:50 mark of the second quarter. Still, the Blue and Gold could not push the gap to double digits.
Reed led 32-26 with 2:54 to go in the first half, only to watch the Railroaders score the next seven points in just over a minute span on a Brian Morgan floater and a trey and second-chance basket by Xavier Rodriguez. That handed Sparks a 33-32 advantage, its first since late in the opening quarter, with 1:02 on the clock.
The Raiders grabbed the lead right back as Ty Shepard went down the court and knocked down a 3-pointer.
But it was the no-quit attitude of one Sparks player that left the teams in a 35-35 deadlock at halftime. With 5 seconds on the clock, Rodriguez drove hard to the hoop but his runner was off the mark. A putback attempt also missed, but Rodriguez was there to tip in the second miss right before the halftime horn sounded.
So Saturday’s non-league clash between former rivals came down to the final 16 minutes of play.
Reed gave itself a little cushion by scoring the first six points of the second half in just over a minute.
A deep 3-pointer from Keiffer Putnam sliced Reed’s lead down to 51-49 with 3:11 left in the third. Sparks then forced a turnover and had a chance to at least tie the game, but threw the ball away.
It turned out that was the Railroaders’ golden opportunity. Devin Gray swished his third 3-pointer of the game for the RHS cagers and the hosts took that five-point edge into the fourth quarter, 56-51.
Again, Reed opened a quarter on a 6-0 run. Dylan McKenzie fired a ‘Hail Mary’ pass down court to Ross, who laid in a breakaway layup, forging the Raiders ahead by their first double-digit margin, 62-51. That also forced Sparks to call a timeout with 6:05 left to play.
There were no heroics left for the Railroaders though, who got as close as nine points the rest of the way and trailed by a game-high 13-point margin twice.
“The intensity was there. It was a lot better effort than two nights ago,” Schreiber said. “We were down nine with 40 seconds to go, but the feeling was we still had a shot at this. Versus South Tahoe, we were down 12 with four minutes to go, the feeling was it was theirs.”
Ross, Silva and Gray all finished in double figures for Reed with 14, 12 and 11 points respectively.
In the losing cause, Morgan led all scorers with 16 points. Rodriguez had 14 and Devine added 11.
Reed (5-4) has a tough week ahead on the road at Hug Tuesday and at Bishop Manogue Friday. Those games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Sparks (9-4) is at home Tuesday against Fernley. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.