After Reed jumped out to a 13-point advantage right out halftime in its opening round playoff game, the Raiders found themselves in the middle of a furious Galena whirlwind. The Grizzlies stormed back in the third quarter.
Slowing the pace of the game and getting the Raiders away from their comfort zone, Galena outscored RHS 22-10 in the eight minutes out of the break, behind 12 points in less than four minutes from senior guard Caleb Wood. With 30 seconds left in the third quarter, Galena forward Trevor Larson grabbed a pass under the hoop for an easy bucket, giving the Grizz a 45-43 lead. It was the first advantage Galena held in the game.
Down a basket, Reed battled its way back in front of the Grizzlies' faithful.
Following an exchange of eight straight baskets that left the scoreboard knotted at 52-52 with 3:30 left in the game, a hard drive and layup by Reed’s Trae Wells put the Raiders ahead 54-52. After Galena was unable to convert on its next possession, Raiders’ forward Devin Herbert knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Blue and Gold a 57-52 edge at the 2:21 mark.
On the Grizzlies’ next trip up the court, forward EJ Poulsen was fouled and went to the charity stripe, hitting the front end of his free throws. However, his second attempt bounced high off the front of the rim.
Leaping high above the rest of the players battling for the rebound, Galena’s Kirk Gunderson tipped the ball out with one hand to the top of the key. Waiting, unguarded and with all the time in the world, Caleb Wood grabbed the loose ball and smoothly drained a three-pointer, cutting the Raiders’ lead to one at 57-56 with just over two minutes to play. It would prove to be the turning point in the contest.
“That play was big,” Reed coach Dustin Hall said. “He misses that free throw and we talk all the time about free-throw rebounding. Someone just got in there for them and made a good, active play and it just came out to Caleb for a wide open shot. That one really hurt. We were up five with just a couple minutes left, but we just couldn’t come up with a stop. At the end of the day, that’s what beat us.”
Galena coach Brian Voyles echoed the magnitude of the swift four-point swing.
“The big play was when we were down four after the free throw and Kirk knocked it back out,” Voyles said. “Right after that we were going to start fouling a lot because we would have been down four with two minutes. So it changed our strategy at that point. That was a big play. That was huge.”
In a blur, Galena had wiped away the Raiders’ five-point cushion and it seemed to demoralize the Reed sideline while igniting the Grizzlies.
A turnover on Reed’s ensuing possession handed the ball to Galena with a chance to take the lead for the first time since the opening minute of the final quarter. With the ball in his hands, Wood made sure to capitalize on the opportunity, charging hard to the paint before pulling up for a jumper that handed the Grizz a 58-57 edge with 1:33 to play. From there, the Raiders were unable to find the basket as Galena sealed the victory with six free throws. A desperation three from Reed’s Devin Gray with 0:01 on the clock made it a one-point game, but there was not enough time for the Raiders to revive their season.
“In the second half we just couldn’t get that rebound we needed or stop when we needed it,” Hall said. “In the first half, we were just so active and everybody was going to the glass. We were getting boards and we were getting out running. The second half we just couldn’t come up with rebounds. And then Caleb obviously got hot for them. He hit some open shots and when they weren’t open, he hit some tough shots.”
The game opened with the sides trading baskets to a 6-6 tie before Reed closed out the first quarter with a 15-10 lead. In the second quarter, seven straight points by Wells extended the Raiders’ lead to 22-12. A 7-1 Galena run cut the deficit to 23-19 with 4:28 until the intermission, but RHS closed the final four minutes with a 10-4 burst that left it on top 33-23 at the half.
Wood led the victorious effort for Galena with a game-high 31 points, including the 12-point outburst in the third quarter that spurred the Grizzlies’ comeback. Galena guard Max Erickson and Poulsen both chipped in for the win with 12 points each.
For Reed, Wells led the way with 19 points. Ty Shepard also tallied 10 points on the night for the Raiders.
“I couldn’t be prouder of a group of kids,” Hall said. “They left the program in better shape than what they got it in. They’ve been through a lot of ups and downs with me and with each other and they stuck it out. They’re going to be successful young men in whatever they do. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”