In order to win back-to-back regional titles, and go 38-0 against Northern Nevada foes the past two seasons, the Raiders would have to find a way to finish off the Reno Huskies.
Apparently for Reed, the seventh time is a charm.
From start to finish, Reed never trailed in the 2012 regional championship game and it made winning consecutive North crowns easier than most expected. The RHS club took down High Desert League runner-up Reno, 59-49, at Spanish Springs High School.
“I thought we played them a lot better than we did the second time. We stepped up and played,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper said, alluding to a nail-biting 63-59 win three weeks over Reno.
Through the first five minutes, Reno turned the ball over seven times. However, Reed couldn’t get any separation, despite the extra opportunities to score, until the Huskies stopped turning the ball over in the final minutes of the first.
After Reno junior guard Gigi Hascheff swished home a deep three, cutting the deficit to one, 12-11, with 1:47 on the first-quarter clock, Reed began to rally.
The Raiders scored the final six points of the first, initiated and ended by Gabby Williams. Williams’ pull-up jumper with 2 seconds on the clock handed Reed an 18-11 lead at the end of the first eight minutes of action.
The Blue and Gold kept its run going as Williams drove to the hoop and was fouled on her layup to open the second period. Williams converted the three-point play, pushing the edge to double digits for the first time, 21-11.
Every time Reed pulled away, Reno was right there to answer back. After Williams’ three-point play, CC Sobrio came down the court and scored on her drive to the basket. That started a 9-0 spurt by the visitors. Huskies post Morgan McGwire scored an easy bucket down low, making it a 21-20 ballgame with 4:18 left in the half.
Then it was Reed’s turn to swing the momentum thanks to some fast-break opportunities.
Tyler Sumpter scored two fast-break layups, which were sandwiched around a Sierra Hooft 3-pointer that benefited from a shooter’s roll. The 7-0 run gave Reed a 28-20 lead with 1:45 remaining before the break.
But again Reno wasn’t about to let the game get away. Shannon Gough knocked down a trey from the right corner with 1:23 on the clock. A minute later, she found the bottom of the net from the opposite corner, slicing Reed’s lead down to 28-26 heading into halftime.
The Raiders won the turnover battle 12-2 in the first half, and it was a good thing for the designated hosts or they likely wouldn’t have had the lead.
Reno missed its first four shots of the third quarter, including three from downtown, allowing Reed to increase its lead to seven, 33-26.
The Huskies battled right back, going back to their bread and butter. McGwire made two easy baskets in the paint as part of a string of six unanswered. That left Reno trailing 33-32 at the 3:02 mark of the third.
A Shay Shaw layup in transition 30 seconds later knotted the game at 34-34, but the Huskies never took the lead.
Reed forged ahead 40-36 at the end of the third when Williams made her move to the hoop, was stripped of the ball, but grabbed it back and got a shot off as time expired.
It was still a four-point game, 44-40, two minutes into the fourth quarter.
With 5:17 to go in the game, Hascheff fouled out. It was the first time the Huskies went to their bench and it seemed to change the complexion of the game.
After Hascheff picked up her fifth foul, Reed tallied the next 10 points to take a game-high 54-40 advantage with 1:49 left.
Reno missed six straight shots and went scoreless for four and a half minutes, sealing its fate. The Huskies ended up with 19 turnovers compared to only seven by Reed.
“I told my team, we’re not going to win it in the first quarter, the second quarter or the third quarter. We’re going to win it in the fourth quarter,” Schopper said. “This court is bigger and we wanted them to play a full-court game. We looked tired a couple of times. I hoped our athleticism, our skills and our conditioning would seal the deal.”
“It’s amazing to beat Reno. They’ve always been our big game,” senior post Nyasha LeSure said. “They took it from us my freshman and sophomore years, so to take it as a senior, this is for all those seniors who didn’t get to hang a banner.”
Williams led the way for Reed, scoring 20 points, pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out six assists. LeSure also had eight rebounds to go with her 13 points, and Hooft finished with 14 points.
McGwire had a team-high 16 points for the Huskies. Shaw added 13.
Since both Northern teams already qualified for the state tournament, what was at stake Saturday was seeding for state ... in other words, who was going to have to face the No. 1 team in the state, Centennial, in the semifinals.
The Bulldogs unsurprisingly rolled to the Sunset Region championship and will face the North’s No. 2 seed in the state semifinals. Centennial already beat Reno by 26 points and 24 points during a pair of non-league contests in December.
Reed (21-2) gets to face Sunrise Region champ Foothill in the state semifinals at 6:20 p.m. Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center.