Fast breaks and momentum swings dominated the battle between Reed and Hug, along with big swats and clutch baskets. In the end, the Blue and Gold did just enough as it fended off a late rally from the Hawks in order to avenge a narrow 62-60 defeat at Hug earlier in the season, this time coming away with the victory by a score of 65-58.
“Defensively, our team just competed,” Reed coach Dustin Hall said. “We hadn’t been getting the stops we needed the last few games and that was the emphasis the last couple days of practice. As a team, the guys on the floor worked hard and the guys on the bench were vocal. We just really buckled down and got some stops, and that fueled some transition for us. As a result, we got some easy looks. All in all, I’m just really proud of their effort.
“It’s a big win just because we’re trying to establish some playoff positioning in order to get in the playoffs. Our league is tough. Everyone is playing well. It was one we needed to have. The kids knew it and they wanted it, so I’m really proud of them.”
After three quarters of play in which the teams jockeyed for the lead, the Raiders held a slim 46-39 advantage. To begin the fourth quarter, Reed (11-7, 7-4 HDL) turned on its after-burners to pull away from the Hawks.
Feeding off three separate ‘and one’ plays, the Reed gang went on a 17-4 burst over the first four minutes of the final quarter that left Raider Nation on its feet.
Junior Trae Wells, the spark plug of the Raiders’ offense, got things started as he tipped a rebound to himself multiple times before laying home a basket and taking the contact. Wells then converted the free throw for the three-point play. A swipe and score by senior guard Ty Shepard followed before Wells returned to the charity stripe for another three-point play. This time Wells bounced off Hug senior forward Sam Williams and sent a fallaway shot high off the glass and in to leave the Raiders ahead 57-40 with just under six minutes to play.
Teammate Alonzo Vega then got in on the action with an old-fashioned three points of his own. After a shot from Devin Gray bounded off the rim, Vega sprinted from the wing and leapt high over Williams to tip in a putback before adding the free throw. A stop on the Hawks’ next possession and a quick outlet pass from Gray to Shepard for an uncontested layup put the Raiders ahead by the largest margin of the game as the scoreboard read 63-43 with 4:01 on the clock.
With a 20-point lead and just four minutes remaining, the Raiders took their foot of the gas pedal and Hug took advantage, racing back into the contest.
Pressing full-court, the Hawks forced turnover after turnover as they methodically erased the deficit. Hug scored six quick points to turn the game into a 63-49 contest with 2:47 to play. After a pair of free throws from Vega stopped the short run, the Hawks went back to work on the comeback, scoring nine unanswered to bring the score to 65-58. Unfortunately for the visitors, with only 0:25 remaining, there was not enough time to complete the run.
Hug scored the first basket of the game, but after Wells drained a shot from the elbow and Vega buried a triple from the corner to go on top, the Raiders never relinquished the lead the remainder of the game. After one quarter Reed held a 14-13 edge before taking a 30-25 lead into the intermission.
While the Raiders were happy to come away with the win, Hall said his team knows it has to develop its killer instinct.
“We’ve played a lot of close games this year, but we haven’t had to play a lot of games where we’ve had to hold onto a big lead like that. So I think we lost a little bit of aggression getting to the rim and we got lazy with the basketball,” he said. “That was the bad thing. They just came and took it from our ball handlers. We’ll clean it up though. I think our kids got a little comfortable. That’s probably my fault for pulling the gas out too soon. We’ll learn from it.”
Wells led the Raiders’ winning effort with a team-high 18 points. Vega chipped in with 14 points while Shepard added 10 points on the night.
Reed now will go to Damonte Ranch for a crossover league game on Tuesday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Although the Lady Raiders appeared to be sleep walking to start the game against Hug Friday night, Reed eventually snapped out of its slumber. It stormed away from the Hawks en route to a 63-27 victory.
To open the contest, the Blue and Gold missed its first 11 shots. Fortunately for the Raiders, Hug only managed to build itself a 5-0 advantage in that time.
Once finally on the board, Reed scored nine straight points to surge ahead 9-5 by the end of the first quarter. But the falter out of the gate by the Raiders seemed to give Hug an extra boost of confidence for the second quarter. Hug rallied with eight of the next 10 points to grab a 13-11 lead at the 5:52 mark. It would be the last highlight of the night for the visitors.
Clamping down on defense and forcing handfuls of turnovers at a time, Reed strung together a 35-7 explosion. The outburst bridged the first and second halves, with a 21-1 run closing out the final five minutes of the second quarter before the Raiders opened the third with on a 14-4 spurt. With 2:09 to play in the third quarter, Reed had catapulted ahead 46-18.
“We missed a lot of little chippers. We just couldn’t find a bucket,” Reed coach Sara Ramirez said. “We just had to find the rhythm of the game. Usually when you score one, you kind of pick up the rhythm so it just took us a while. We had a couple easy ones we just couldn’t finish. So we changed our defense and went man and full-court. That got us some turnovers and that kind of got us going.
“What I’ve been preaching in practice is that defense is going to be our offense. We have to play some good defense. We got better through the night. We denied and pressured and that got them to turn the ball over and gave us some easy points. That’s what we’re going to have to do. We’re going to have to pressure.”
Raiders’ junior point guard Brooke Cervantes led Reed with a game-high 21 points. Close behind, Tina Vernon finished with 19 points while Tyler Sumpter added 12 points.
Reed (16-3, 11-1) faces off against Damonte Ranch on the road Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. Ramirez said she will be looking for a number of improvements when her team takes on the Mustangs.
“We need to take care of the ball a little bit better,” she said. “We need to come out with a little more energy too. It took us a while to find that energy. You can’t come out flat. And then we need to execute the offense a little better. We’re still adjusting, so it’s not all there yet, but we’re getting there.”