Holding a 54-46 lead with 3:27 left on the game clock, Sparks head coach Dan Schreiber yelled out to his team “Three minutes, just three more minutes!” That proved to be just enough time for Reed, as the Railroaders did not manage another basket and the Raiders stormed back from 17 points down for a 61-54 victory. Reed scored the final 15 points of the game in just over two minutes to steal the win.
“We just had to buckle down and compete” Reed coach Dustin Hall said of his team’s comeback effort. “Obviously you can’t get it back in one or two possessions, so you have to keep working and just crawl back into it. They played hard in the first half, but they started playing harder in the second half. There wasn’t much discipline in the first half but there was more in the second half and obviously that got the momentum on our side.
“We got some turnovers and got some jumpers to go down, and it kind of just rolled from there. It just showed that our kids have some toughness and resolve to keep fighting.”
While the Raiders celebrated the victory, Schreiber knew his team let one slip away.
“We kind of let them back in the game. We came out of our offense and started doing a little more one-on-one showcasing,” Schreiber said. “We’re pretty disciplined to stay in a set offense and that was what we did the first quarter. The second quarter we started to migrate away from that and the third and fourth quarters even further. We need to duplicate the first quarter and parts of the second and put a complete game together. It’s still early December, so it’s a nice bright spot to focus on.
“We’re still a young group and we graduated a lot of kids last year. These kids are really starting to band together, so it’s nice to see that we’re competing with a good 4A school. I think come February, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
To start the game, everything seemed to be falling in favor of the Railroaders. While basket after basket went down for Sparks, Reed could not buy a bucket, allowing SHS to jump out to an 18-4 lead after one quarter of play.
A 3-point basket by senior Adam Morgan pushed the Railroaders’ advantage to 21-4, but Reed then rattled off a 12-3 spurt that brought the score to 24-16 at the 2:20 mark of the second quarter. At halftime, the Maroon and Gold held a 31-20 edge.
“We were just struggling,” Hall said of the Raiders’ lackluster first half. “We weren’t seeing the ball go in. We missed a lot of shots around the rim and I think we just started to kind of tighten up. We just didn’t have any flow. We weren’t getting any stops, and with us we have to get stops first and let that become our offense.”
In the second half, the Raiders erased the deficit as fast as Sparks had built its lead.
Out of the intermission, Reed strung together 10 unanswered points, capped by a steal and score by junior Trae Wells along with a foul, to trim the Railroaders’ advantage to 31-30. The Raiders then took their first lead of the game at the 4:49 mark of the third quarter as Wells dropped in a floater from the paint for a 34-33 edge. The squads then traded baskets as Sparks regained the lead at 41-40 at the end of the third before extending its lead to 54-46, setting up the Raiders’ comeback.
Wells finished with a game-high 23 points to lead the winning Reed effort. Keiffer Putman and Isaiah Campbell led Sparks in scoring, tallying 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The two teams will return to tournament action Friday as the Railroaders take on Damonte Ranch at 4:30 p.m. and Reed faces Carson at 7:30 p.m.