Reed consistently won postseason games and advanced into the regional semifinals and beyond for years, but the RHS crew had not earned a playoff bid since 2008-09 and had not won a regional game since the 2005-06 season.
Those droughts came to an end Wednesday night when Reed handed Damonte Ranch a 56-49 defeat in a Northern 4A Tournament quarterfinal at RHS.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” fourth-year Reed coach Dustin Hall said. “The game was a little out of our comfort zone. We didn’t shoot well. We had every reason to make excuses … I’m proud of them for fighting through the season and putting Reed basketball back on the map.”
Reed led throughout much of the postseason contest, but it could not gain much separation or shake a determined Damonte Ranch squad.
Mustangs post John Carlson put his teammates on his back offensively in the fourth quarter. He scored all 12 of the DRHS points in the final period. Carlson drained 1 of 2 foul shots at the 3:38 mark of the fourth to pull the Mustangs into a 47-47 deadlock.
Unfortunately for the southeast Reno school and the Sierra League’s No. 3 seed, that’s as good as it got. Damotne Ranch was never able to take the lead. Reed answered with a Devin Gray layup and two Gray free throws to forge ahead 51-47. The points kickstarted a 9-2 Reed run to end the game and seal Damonte’s losing fate.
The game was a back-and-forth affair early on. Two Carlson free throws with just under a minute to go in the first quarter gave the Mustangs an 11-9 lead. The proved to be Damonte’s last lead, but the Mustangs did not roll over and play dead.
Reed got a Trae Wells bucket with six ticks left on the first-quarter clock and the two teams were knotted at 11-11 after the first eight minutes.
The Raiders, who earned a home playoff game by qualifying for the postseason as the High Desert League’s runner-up, grabbed an 18-13 lead only to see Damonte’s Jeff Turk knock down four straight free throws and trim the RHS advantage to one, 18-17 with 4:51 to go before the break.
Reed grabbed the momentum by reaping off a 10-2 burst that closed the second quarter. Dylan McKenzie capped the spurt with a 3-pointer and the Raiders held a 28-19 lead at the intermission.
McKenzie buried another jumper, this time a minute and a half into the third period, and Reed pushed ahead 32-21. The 11-point gap was the Raiders’ biggest lead of the night.
Damonte (14-9) put together a 12-4 run to trim Reed’s lead to three, 36-33. However, Reed (13-8) stopped the bleeding and extended its edge to 43-37 after three periods, setting the stage for Carlson’s big offensive fourth quarter and Reed’s dominance in crunch time.
“We got a little bit more passionate defensively and started getting the ball into the post. That’s why we got back in the game,” Damonte Ranch coach Torrey Sheets said. “What hurt us is they do a good job off the dribble and breaking us down, so they got to the middle of the floor. That caused us problems.”
McKenzie finished with 14 points to lead the Raiders’ offensive attack. Kyle Ross chipped in 11 points to the winning cause that saw five Raiders score eight or more points.
Carlson posted 18 points and Turk added 15 to pace the Damonte Ranch offense.
“We did not do a good job with our post defense,” Hall said. “We gave up a lot of easy buckets, but the kids responded. We were up 11, lost all that momentum, but toughed it out and found a way to win.”
Reed advances to a Northern 4A semifinal Friday night at Spanish Springs High school. The Raiders will face Sierra League champion Douglas at 7 p.m.