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Raiders outlast Cougars in emotional rivalry hoops meeting
by Dan Eckles
Feb 14, 2014 | 1335 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs' Dupree Kness tried to make a bounce pass under the outstretched arm of Reed's Trae Wells during first-half action Friday night.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs' Dupree Kness tried to make a bounce pass under the outstretched arm of Reed's Trae Wells during first-half action Friday night.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed's Devin Herbert (with ball) pulls down a defensive rebound in traffic during fourth-quarter action of the Raiders' HDL home win over Spanish Springs Friday.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed's Devin Herbert (with ball) pulls down a defensive rebound in traffic during fourth-quarter action of the Raiders' HDL home win over Spanish Springs Friday.
For much of the High Desert League boys basketball season it looked like Friday's regular season finale between Spanish Springs and Reed might have a conference championship on the line. It didn't quite work out that way but you wouldn't have known it based on the intensity of players and coaches and a raucous playoff-like atmosphere that permeated Reed's Paul Kautz gymnasium.

The end result was a 57-52 Reed win that left the arch rivals with a split of the season series, both winning on their home floor.

Since Reed (21-6, 14-2) had already clinched the HDL title,a nd Spanish Springs (16-10, 11-5) had sewn up the league's No. 2 playoff seed, there were no playoff implications at stake. But there was plenty of school pride on the line and the two teams showcased that.

"You talk in the pregame that it's going to be chaos. You get it in your mind that there's nothing on the line. You just don't want anyone to get hurt," Reed coach Dustin Hall said. "Then you come out and the game starts. It's almost like you throw all the plans out the window and just try to go win a game."

The emotions showed as both teams had players whistled for technical fouls. The one against Spanish Springs essentially erased any Cougars hopes of stealing a win. With 5.7 seconds left in the game, Reed's Devin Herbert was fouled after pulling down a rebound. Both teams saw players get heated in the moments following the foul, but Spanish Springs senior Dupree Kness was hit with a technical.

Instead of Herbert just going to the line to shoot the front end of a bonus, Reed -- which was leading 53-52 -- got two shot foul shots, two more on a technical foul and possession of the ball, which resulted in a Cougars foul and two more Raiders free throws. Reed wound up making four of the six ensuing free throws and extended its edge from one to five, to secure the emotional rivalry victory.

"Everyone (in the DI North) played a rivalry game tonight," Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney said. "I expect all the games to be tight and emotional. Reed is probably the best team in the league and we just went toe to toe with them on their home court. We just came up short. That's tough. We lost a tough game, we but showed we can play at a high level with the focus and intensity to do that. We need to be more consistent but when we do that, we're a pretty good basketball team ourselves."

The conference clash was a back-and-forth affair throughout. The two teams traded runs and leads all night.

Spanish Springs found itself down 12, the largest lead of the night for either team, after Reed's Trae Wells drained two free throws with 3:28 showing on the third-quarter clock.

Prior to a putback by Spanish Springs' Hunter Fralick, just seconds before Wells' free throws, Reed had strung together a 22-1 run.

Still, Spanish Springs had an answer. The Cougars scored 24 of the next 29 points in a span of just over five minutes that bridged the third and fourth quarters. A Kness layup at the 6:09 mark of the fourth concluded the spurt that saw the SSHS cagers forge ahead 48-41.

Unfortunately for Spanish Springs, Reed posted the next eight points to go back on top, 49-48, after two more Wells freebies from the charity stripe, those coming at the midway point of the final period.

"We went through a couple spurts where we lost focus and our assignments, especially against their press," Penney said. "We were up 48-41. Then it was 49-48 real quick and that's on us not being able to execute our press break."

The teams traded the next four buckets, the last of those coming on a layup from Alonzo Vega with 20 ticks remaining that gave Reed a 53-52 lead.

Spanish Springs got the ball up the floor and called timeout. Reed played zone defense out of the timeout and the Cougars got an open look near the top of the key on a 3-pointer from their sharp-shooting senior guard Kenny Meyer. His shot bounced off the rim and into Herbert's hands, setting the stage for the late technical foul and Reed's game-winning free throws.

"My heart stopped right there," Hall said. "We didn't do a great job defending in that last minute. We dodged a bullet when Kenny missed that 3-pointer. He's going to make that a lot of times. To hold him down like we did, that's about as good as you can do."

Penny said he liked Meyer's shot selection and he'd take that sequence over and over again if given the choice.

"You can't ask for a better situation," Penney said. "We got our best player a wide-open three. We had the ball out of bounds and they went to a zone. They just didn't locate him. He got the open shot. It's nothing we drew up. We just got the ball to the right spot at the right time."

Wells paced the Raiders' offense, pouring in 21 points to lead all scorers. Reed had a balanced offensive attack as four players found double digits in the scoring column. Jamel Ramos chipped in 13 points to the winning cause while Vega and Jack Kuchler added 10 points apiece.

"That may have been the best effort play we've had all year," Hall said. "We didn't execute real well tonight and a lot of that is Spanish Springs and the defensive pressure they put on you. But our effort: defense, rebounding blocking shots, hustle, that stuff was all great."

Kness finished with 17 points to lead Spanish Springs while Meyer was held to 12, eight below his season average. The Cougars shot 19-of-49 (39 percent) from the field, including just 4-of-17 (24 percent) from beyond the arc.

Reed had a 25-22 lead at the intermission. The Raiders gained the halftime lead thanks to wrapping up the second period with a 13-1 spurt.

A burst of five quick points, capped by a Kness layup, gave Spanish Springs a 21-12 advantage with 3:49 remaining in the first half.

That's when Reed got its offense going. The Raiders answered the Kness layup with nine straight points to kick off their 13-1 run. Kuchler and Wells both got to the foul line and knocked down a pair of free throws in the final minute of the second quarter to put the finishing touches on the RHS gang's key run.

A Kness free throw at the 1:47 mark of the second quarter was the only scoring for the Cougars during their late first-half drought.

Spanish Springs grabbed the early momentum, scoring seven of the first nine points in the game en route to grabbing a 12-8 edge after the first period.

Reed, which won its first HDL crown since the 2004-05 season, will be at home for the first round of the playoffs. The Raiders will host Sierra League No. 4 seed Douglas in a North Region quarterfinal Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Spanish Springs, the HDL runner-up, also earned postseason hosting rights. The Cougars will host SL No. 3 seed Carson in another 7 p.m. quarterfinal matchup Wednesday.
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