The Lady Raiders got their wish.
It wasn’t always pretty but Reed dismantled Sunrise Region champ Foothill in the 4A state semifinals Thursday night at the University of Nevada’s Lawlor Events Center, 59-45, advancing to the state championship game for the third time in seven years.
“It’s huge for the state championship,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper said of the all-North final. “Every time we play them, it gets closer and closer. It can go either way. I’ve got to remind my girls to keep their composure and not turn it over. They shot great tonight. They have seniors. We have seniors. It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be anybody’s game. It’s up for the taking.”
It was obvious the Falcons were the far less experienced team on the big stage, having never competed in the state tournament for girls hoops.
Foothill missed its first eight shots in a first quarter marred by poor shooting. Reed shot 6-of-22 (27 percent), while the Falcons were only 3-of-17 (18 percent) from the field.
Foothill watched Reed jump out to an 8-0 lead, following a 3-pointer by sophomore sharpshooter Tyler Sumpter at the 4:26 mark of the opening period.
“It’s huge because you can never prepare for an arena like this, the loudness of it, the court, the backboards, everything,” Schopper said. “Knowing we’ve been here before, my girls knew what they were coming into. A new team that has never played here before, I can see how this environment can be overwhelming. We wanted to play our game and get out on them right off the bat.”
It took the Falcons over half the first quarter to get on the board. Christina Nash scored a fast-break layup, started by a bad pass from Raiders point guard Gabby Williams, making it an 8-2 game with 3:54 on the clock.
Julie Harless scored the next six points for the southeast Las Vegas school on an old-fashioned three-point play and a trey, cutting the deficit to 12-8 with 1:51 to go in the first quarter.
Reed senior post Nyasha LeSure converted the first of her two three-point plays, pushing the Raiders ahead by seven, 15-8, through the first eight minutes of action.
LeSure opened the second quarter with a three-point play on her team’s first possession, handing the Northern 4A champs their first double-digit advantage of the game, 18-8.
The Falcons scored the next five points, slicing the margin in half. Emily Cox swished a 3-pointer from the corner, leaving the scoreboard reading 18-13 with 5:37 remaining in the first half. But that was all the momentum Foothill could muster.
Reed got its lead back up to double digits, 26-16, on a bucket down low by LeSure. And the cushion stayed in double digits for the remainder of the half as the Raiders scored eight of the final 10 points before the break. LeSure’s 12th point of the first half gave the Blue and Gold a 32-18 halftime edge.
The Raiders led by as much as 16, 36-20, two minutes into the third quarter. But that’s when the Falcons started making it interesting.
Six straight points by Foothill left Reed with a 10-point lead. However, the Falcons weren’t done. After the Raiders missed a couple layups, the Falcons went on the attack, pushing the ball up the court for Bri Higgins to finish off a layup while getting fouled. The three-point play conversion capped a 9-0 run at the midway point of the third and Reed only led 36-29.
But that is close as Foothill would get over the last 12 minutes of the game.
Reed outscored its opponent 14-4 over the last four minutes of the third quarter, on the strength of five points apiece by Sumpter and Williams, to take a 50-33 advantage after three quarters of action.
The Raiders only made two shots from the field in the fourth quarter, but added five free throws to keep the Falcons at bay. Foothill was within 10, 55-45, with 1:42 to play, but never scored again.
Reed only had four players score in the contest, but all four finished with at least 10 points. LeSure, who will be playing for the Nevada Wolf Pack next year, led the way with 19 points on her future home floor. Sumpter and Williams both poured in 15 points, while Sierra Hooft added 10.
Harless paced the Falcons with 11 points, while Nash chipped in 10 to the losing cause.
Reed (22-2) will look to go 4-0 against Reno this year when it takes on the Huskies in the championship today at 6 p.m.
“We’re in the state championship game against Reno out of all people. We’re just ready to kill it and go out there and do what we’ve got to do,” LeSure said. “We were shocked. Reno came to play. We came to play. We had a statement to make and we made it. We’re ready to hang another banner.”