(pictured above: Reynolds’ Timothy Henry)
Due to editorial deadlines for the Christmas holidays, coverage of the championship game played on Dec. 23 will run next week in the Jan. 2 edition.
With a few tweaks here and there, eighth-seeded Reynolds could’ve advanced to the finals of the Lash-Chronicle Holiday Classic, the showcase event for junior varsity basketball in Forsyth County.
In a semifinal match-up vs. No. 5 Winston-Salem Prep, the Demons led from the opening tip until 3:38 left in the fourth quarter. From that point on, it was a downhill experience. The combination of floor mistakes, fatigue and Prep’s torrid 3-point shooting led to a disappointing 58-55 loss last Saturday.
RJR wasn’t able to overcome the lack of production from its bench. It didn’t help matters that Aram Moossavi was unavailable because of his family traveling out of town for the Christmas holidays. The night before, Moossavi delivered a team-high 20 points in Reynolds’ 60-42 quarterfinal win over West Forsyth, the tournament’s top seed.
“We’re at a good starting point to get better,” said Coach Mike Coker, whose team was 5-3 entering Monday’s consolation game for third place against Forsyth Country Day. “Right now, we have to learn how to win games. We have to do a better job of recognizing what to do and what not to do in different game situations. As the season moves along, I expect some of our non-starters to step up as they gain more experience.”
Surprisingly, Reynolds was able to build a comfortable cushion in spite of playing only seven players against Prep, who relies on a 10-player rotation to wear down the opposition. The Demons maintained a double-digits lead until midway through the third quarter. That’s when the Phoenix’s superior depth began to show and Reynolds wasn’t able to hold steady.
Leading the way for Reynolds was point guard Pat Hairston who finished with 23 points. Hairston got plenty of help from Timothy Henry (17 points) who gave Prep problems with his ability to score in the paint and from the perimeter.
“For us to be at our best, we’re going to need more of everything,” said Henry. “More hustle, more rebounding and more production from our bench. The starters played so many minutes and we didn’t get much rest. It finally took its toll.”
Looking ahead to the start of Central Piedmont 4-A Conference play in January, Coker wants to play more man-to-man defense. How soon that happens, however, is yet to be determined. In the meantime, the Demons have enjoyed a measure of success with their 2-3 and 3-2 zone, which was pivotal in their tournament win over conference rival West Forsyth.
“We’re not quite there yet,” said Coker, referring to his team’s ability to effectively defend one-on-one. “But there has been improvement. Offensively, we’ve come a long way in knowing what to do against traps and presses and how to get to open spaces on the court against different defensive sets.”