DYLAN HUTCHISON attempts to dribble past his defender during Reed-Custerís Regional game against Princeton. Hutchison finished the night with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. Photo by Brent Sumner
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
The Reed-Custer varsity boys basketball team saw its season come to an end last Wednesday, and with it, the end of reaching the Regional finale five years in a row.
The Comets wound up suffering a loss in their opening round of the Wilmington Regional, as they fell to Princeton, 82-71.
The Tigers came out quick, jumping to an 8-0 lead before Reed-Custer registered a point. Another run gave Princeton a 22-6 lead, and by the end of the first quarter Princeton held the advantage, 25-12.
The Comets, as they started to drive the basket, force defenders inside, and capitalize by swinging out for three pointers.
"We wanted them to run, to push the pace and get after them defensively," said Comets coach Mark Porter. "We knew they weren't that deep of a team, and they had to go deeper on the bench. I think that is one of the reasons we got back into the game."
The Comets added 25 points of their own in the second quarter, while holding the opposition to 15. They actually held a one-point lead midway through the third, but wound up still behind Princeton at half.
Reed-Custer headed into the locker room trailing by only three points, 40-37.
"We were able to get some easy baskets, got some guys open, and they weren't closing out defensively because they were fatigued in the second quarter," Porter added. "The way we came out to start the second half, not as focused as we needed to be, was the telltale."
The third quarter saw more of the back-and-forth play from the first quarter, Princeton would go on a run, Reed-Custer would close within five or six points, then the Tigers would jump back out.
"They pushed it to 12 right away, and the closest we got was maybe five," Porter added. "We came out and didn't match their focus or energy."
Mistakes down the stretch ultimately led to the loss, including 18 turnovers from Reed-Custer.
"We just made too many mistakes, and things that have been plaguing us all season long," Porter said. "We gave up too many easy baskets, ran to the ball, left the basket open. We just made mistakes, and that happens."
Russell Page attempted to pace the Comets to a win, as he had a big night, going 3-for-9 from three-point range, while earning 27 points and nine rebounds.
"Russell got off to a little bit of a slow start, but then all of a sudden he knocked down a couple three-balls, and kind of kick started us and got us going."
He was followed by Dylan Hutchison who added 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Jake Welch chipped in with seven points and nine assists.
Gavin Grace and Cory McGregor added six and five points, respectively, while Bryce Martis chipped in four, AJ Cherry and Hunter O'Shea added three, and Josh Loomis rounded out the effort with two points.
Reed-Custer finishes their season with an overall record of 11-17 (3-8 conference).
With the end of the season comes the time of saying goodbye to the seniors.
"I told the seniors that I was sorry," Porter said. "None of us wanted it to end like this. We wanted to get to a fifth straight Regional final, we wanted the chance to win our fourth Regional final."
"I thanked the seniors for their time and effort, and we will miss the four seniors greatly. Their leadership, things they bring to the floor, and just their personalities. They are great kids."
While the Comets say goodbye to their four seniors on the roster, the future looks optimistic for a program with a load of underclassmen.
"Our sophomores had a good year, freshmen had a good year, and we have a lot of young kids coming back," Porter added. "It is just finding spots for those pieces, continue to try and get better and putting it all in place. We have a lot of work to do."
"Just because we have kids coming back doesn't mean we will automatically be good next year. The kids know that, and they don't take it for granted. The kids worked their tails off, and the new group will do the same."