JAKE WELCH drives to the basket during Reed-Custerís game against Seneca on Friday. The Comets rallied back to earn a win over the Irish, 56-55. Welch finished with eight points. Photo by Brent Sumner.
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
Reed-Custer's varsity boys basketball team got off to a painstakingly slow start Friday when they hosted Seneca during senior night.
The Comets were able to battle back though, clinching the conference win to build momentum heading into the first round of Regional.
The defeated the Irish, 56-55, thanks to some late free-throws.
"They are competitors, and they are supposed to keep fighting, and they did," said Comet coach Mark Porter. "I wasn't proud of our first quarter, we made some mistakes defensively. Our poor offensive play gave them easy baskets on the other end. We did not come out with intensity."
Reed-Custer made just one basket in first quarter, and found themselves trailing, 19-2. They battled back in the second frame though, outscoring Seneca 16-8, cutting the Irish lead to nine points at halftime, 27-18.
"The more we got into the teeth of the defense, it made Seneca's defense expand, and we were able to get in," said Porter. "Dylan Hutchison played really well for us in the first half. If not for him, we might have been down 16, 17 or 18 points at half instead of nine."
It was a physical contest with the referees calling a combined 45 personal fouls, including two technical fouls (one for each team).
The third quarter saw both teams exchange blows, as the margin remained about the same. Reed-Custer cut Seneca's lead by one point, still trailing, 46-38, with one quarter to go.
The fouls really came into play in the final frame with both teams in the bonus.
With about six seconds left in the game, Reed-Custer still trailed, 55-54.
The Comets had to inbound the ball, and were hoping for a quick shot to seal the win. Porter called a timeout.
"We just wanted to set up what we wanted to do," he said. "Get the ball in a situation closer to the basket. We knew what we wanted to look for."
Seneca put up a strong man-on-man defense on the inbound. Reed-Custer passed the ball to Russell Page, who ended up getting hit from behind in a scramble for the pass.
"Fortunately, and they made calls all night long, we got the foul call," Porter said. "There was contact there, and Russell stepped to the line."
With the crowd yelling, Page went 2-for-2 from the line, giving the Comets a one-point advantage with three seconds left.
From there, Reed-Custer pressured the visitors long enough to burn up the clock.
After the game, Porter commended Page on his resilience, overcoming a late injury, and being able to shoot from the line despite showing discomfort.
"It shows he is stepping forward as a varsity athlete," Porter said. "That is something you have to do, you have got to be able to fight through it. Russell did, and I was proud of him."
Hutchison led the offense on the night with 16 points, while Page followed with 11.
Jake Welch added eight points, Bryce Martis earned seven, and Gavin Grace finished with four.
Zach Weaver and Parker Dransfeldt both added three points, while Josh Loomis and Cory McGregor both earned two points.
Friday night marked the second game in a row that Reed-Custer faced a sizable deficit in the first quarter, and came back to win by one point, and it is something that Porter hopes will give his team some momentum.
"It shows our guys that no matter what happens, whatever start we get off to, we are never out of the ball game," he said. "Games like the last two we played, we are not out of it. We just have to keep fighting."
The win will hopefully give the Comets some energy as they prepare for Wednesday, where they will enter the first round of the Wilmington Regional against third seed, Princeton.
"I think we know what to expect," Porter added. "Princeton is a good team, and it has been a little bit of a struggle for them. They lost a player early, one of their better players. They have a 6' 6" guy in the center, and have a really nice point guard."
The game will be held at Wilmington on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
"They were here tonight," Porter said. "It is going to be a challenge for us, and it is going to be a tough game. I think the kids are confident, and we are confident. There is no pressure on us. We are the lower seed, and we aren't supposed to win. We need to try and take advantage of that."