The Cougars came out and played like a team desperate to make the playoffs, chasing after every loose ball, grabbing every rebound and pushing the tempo on fast breaks...for one half.
Reed was not about to allow the fellow Rail City school to win and qualify for the postseason. With one switch on defense at halftime, moving Danielle Peacon to the top of the zone, the Raiders shut down the hosts after the break and secured a 45-36 victory thanks to 18-point performances by Peacon and Honour Knudsen.
“She (Knudsen) had a great game. She was finding the mismatches,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper said. “People focus on Danielle a lot, so sometimes she can sneak in those back corners. That’s what we need. Today, I kind of had her in the corner and had her cut down. Before, I would just keep her on that block and we’d lose her. I think the timing from her cutting from the corner helped us out a little bit.”
The Cougars led 25-21 at halftime and still had control of the game after three quarters. A 3-pointer by Peacon cut the deficit to 33-30 heading into the final eight minutes.
While Spanish Springs still scored a respectable eight points in the third quarter, it was completely shut down in the fourth.
The Blue and Gold outscored the Cougars 15-3 in the final eight minutes of play.
“We just struggled with their 1-2-2 and getting the ball where we wanted to get it and scoring buckets,” SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles said. “That hurt us offensively. I think they scored eight points off offensive rebounds down the stretch and you just can’t give them second chances like that. I thought that really hurt us more than anything.”
With 7:24 to play in the game, Peacon knocked down her second trey, giving the visitors a 35-33 edge, their first lead of the second half. The Raiders never trailed again.
It was still a one-point game with under two minutes on the clock after Sam Owens made both free throws for the Purple and Teal for a 37-36 Reed lead.
Spanish Springs did not score again and the Raiders ended the game with eight straight points, including six free throws by Knudsen.
The first half had Cougars fans thinking their team might be playoff bound.
It seemed every time they looked up, Spanish Springs was scoring on a fast break.
Kaylie Humphreys benefited from those breakouts, tallying six of her team-high 10 points on fast-break layups. She also was pretty much the only offense Spanish Springs had in the second half. Humphreys made three of the Cougars four field goals after halftime.
“It was nice to get those easy buckets because it is hard to score against them in a half-court set,” Eckles said. “That was good. I think Kaylie does a really good job getting out because she’s really fast. She lacks size in the post, but she makes up for it by sprinting up the floor. That helped us stay in it.”
Spanish Springs was up by as much as a 25-19 margin late in the first half before Peacon drove to the hoop and scored, closing out the first half’s scoring with two seconds on the clock.
Reed (18-7, 9-3 HDL) went on to outscore Spanish Springs 24-11 in the second half, much to the pleasure of the Hug Hawks players in attendance, who needed a Spanish Springs loss to clinch the No. 4 seed for the playoffs.
The Raiders host Carson in the quarterfinals of the Northern 4A Region girls basketball tournament at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
The Cougars end their season at 14-12 overall and took fifth place in the HDL standings with a 5-7 mark. They gave it their all Saturday though. Lyndsey Anderson and Sam Owens both chipped in with nine points apiece, and Ari James pulled down 13 rebounds for the second straight game.
“You can’t fault the effort. They wanted to win,” Eckles said. “They came out and played hard. I don’t think they have anything left in their tanks, so that’s all you can ask. We just made some little mistakes down the stretch and you just can’t do that against a good team. It’s just disappointing for them and for me because we don’t get to play again.”