Reed -- the High Desert League regular season champion -- came up with three defensive stops in the final 13.6 seconds to survive a major scare from Sierra League No. 4 seed Douglas en route to capturing a 60-57 win on its home floor Wednesday night. The Raiders had trailed by as much as 11 in the first half.
“Survive and advance,” Reed coach Dustin Hall said. “Credit Douglas. They came out and hit everything. Their kids played great and we knew it was going to be a fight.”
The Raiders advanced despite a nearly-season-ending shooting barrage from the Tigers, who connected on 9-of-16 shots from behind the arc and six of their first seven. AJ Pfaffenberger led the cause, hitting 5-of-6 shots from deep and finished with a game-high 28 points in what proved to be his final high school game.
“You have to be proud of him,” Douglas coach Corey Thacker said. “It’s his senior year. He’s our point guard. We ask our point guard to distribute the ball and tonight he did that plus he knocked down some shots, some huge shots. He was confident and ready to shoot.”
Trailing by three, 60-57, with the 2.9 seconds left under Reed’s hoop, Thacker drew up a play for Pfaffenberger to tie the game. Big man James Herrick hauled in a half-court pass and looked for Pfaffenberger but Reed senior Trae Wells knocked the ball from his paws and Pfaffenberger never got off the game-tying look as time expired.
“We gave ourselves a chance at the end and, you know, things go a different way, it’s just how it is,” Thacker said. “Hey, they’re a good team. They’re very athletic.”
Reed led 58-57 with 2:18 left, after a Pfaffenberger free throw, before melting more than a minute off the clock on its next possession. Wells drove into the paint and dished to a wide open Alonzo Vega under the hoop with 39 seconds left to put the hosts up three before Douglas’ late effort.
Wells and Vega both finished with 15 points.
Reed’s greatest hero of the night, though, was Jamel Ramos who turned in a team-high 21 points. Trailing 31-22 with 2:10 left in the first half, Ramos drilled two three balls in 24 seconds to key a 10-0 run, getting Reed back into the game as it grabbed a 32-31 advantage with 32 seconds left – its first lead since 2-0.
As he did all night, however, Pfaffenberger splashed a 23-foot bomb at the buzzer to put Douglas back in front, 34-32 at the break.
“(It wasn’t) deflating because we were down (11), and if we were down (11), I would have taken down two at the half,” Hall said. “But it was a little upsetting to miss an assignment at the end of the half … It hurt a little bit but I was more happy we were only down two after how well (Douglas) played.”
Reed opened the third quarter on a 7-4 run to snag a 39-38 lead only to watch Douglas respond with a 5-0 run of its own, capped with a 3-pointer from none other than Pfaffenberger with 3:04 left in the period.
The Tigers and Raiders traded buckets the rest of the third quarter as Douglas took a 49-45 lead into the final eight minutes.
The junior point guard hit treys on Reed's first two possessions of the fourth quarter to put the hosts in front 51-49. Then, following a Devin Herbert layup, Ramos drained another trey, this time with 5:57 left to give Reed its biggest lead of the night – 56-49.
“Every shot I let go felt good, so I was just confident in every shot I took,” Ramos said.
Pat Johnson buried a 3-pointer with 3:07 left to draw the Tigers within 58-56 but Ramos’ damage was too much to surmount. Johnson was Douglas’ second-leading scorer with 11 points.
“It’s going to be a last game for all the teams but one, everybody else is going to lose in their last game,” Thacker said. “The one thing we always talk about … Do you leave the program better today than it was a year ago? That’s our question.”
Reed now advances to the North semifinals Friday at Spanish Springs where it will play Reno which dumped Damonte Ranch Wednesday night.
The Raiders swept the Huskies in both regular-season games this year but Hall is not expecting a cakewalk – not after Wednesday.
“To me it’s tough to beat Reno one time and all we are talking about is a one-game tournament, so it’ll be a great game,” Hall said. “They’re very talented. They’re big. They’re strong. I think our guys will be excited.”
Because the state tournament is played in the North this year – at Lawlor Events Center – the North advances two teams to state. A win Friday puts the Raiders in the North title game, and the state tourney.
Tip between the Huskies and Raiders is at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Spanish Springs.