Davon Reid made his presence felt Thursday night in Central’s 55-46 win at East Ridge and he did so utilizing three very specific and equally important skills.
On offense he was patient, on defense he was smart and at long last his mindset was just right.
“Davon has been a kid with a mind trying to catch up with his size and the two have finally met up,” said Central coach Rick Rogers.
“Forget the 20 points he had. Between the altered shots, the blocks, the forced turnovers just because of his presence in the lane, and his rebounds, he probably had a hand in most of the other 31 points we scored.”
Added Reid on his big night: “Coach told me if I would trust the process from the beginning of the season to now, I could make this kind of difference by the end of the year. Well, the end of the year is here.”
Reid scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds, blocked four shots and altered no less than six shots in the lane. Three times East Ridge players got the ball in the post with Reid close by and turned it over as they rushed to avoid the 6-foot-6 junior.
“Devon has learned patience. He slowed it down enough tonight to where he could evaluate what was going on. If he had the shot, he took it, and if not, he found open people. He is a true post player and that’s something East Ridge doesn’t have and we needed him to take advantage of that,” Rogers said.
The two squads battled to a draw in the first quarter and set the tone that this one was going to come down to the wire. Tyrone Martin sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around an Alonzo Russell rebound and putback to spark an 11-2 Pioneer run to separate from the Pounders at 24-15 with 2:05 left in the half.
But just when Central looked on the ropes, senior guard Julius Jackson provided the punch to get the Pounders right back in it. Jackson came off the bench and scored the half’s final eight points.
He followed up two made free throws with a long 3 and then drove the lane, spun and canned it and he was sent sprawling to the floor. His made free throw made 24-23 at the break.
“Julius was the catalyst out there for us,” Rogers said. “I’m not sure we would be here talking about a win without that incredible run of his at the end of the half. It got us back in it and it gave us momentum.”
“We were down and needed someone to step up. That’s my job. I’m a senior and I come off the bench and I’m supposed to be a leader out there. This was a big game for us and a big win. It gets us another home game in the District tournament and that was important,” Jackson said.
The Pounders concluded the regular season with a sixth 6-AA league win and depending on what East Ridge does in its finale against Red Bank, Central will end up with a three or four seed, both of which earns a home game next week.
Tyner and Signal Mountain are locked in with the top two seeds now that Brainerd’s post-season appeal was denied, and Central and East Ridge are tied with six wins each in the league.
East Ridge coach Jon Goddard wasn’t in the mood to talk about seeding afterwards and he wasn’t particularly pleased with the effort, especially the Pioneer’s 18 of 58 shooting night.
“They sat in that 2-3 zone and just dared us to shoot. They left our post wide open and we just ignored it. And the turnovers killed us. Every timeout we had, I had to remind them that we were the ones wearing orange to try to stop them from passing the ball to the guys in purple.
“Hope this is a wake-up call for them. I mean its how bad do you want it this time of the year. We were selfish tonight and that’s disappointing. Central played well and we let the big guy get comfortable and it hurt us. We either learn from this or it’s going to be a short postseason,” said Goddard.
The Pioneers clung to a 35-34 lead heading into the final period but got off to horrid fourth quarter start. East Ridge turned the ball over six times in its first 10 possessions and made just one shot as Central ran off a 13-2 run for a 47-37 lead. Russell and Sam Garmany hit back-to-back treys to cut it to four, but the Pounders made 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.
“We weren’t going to take a shot unless it was a layup or at the free throw line,” said Rogers.
Reid wound up fouling out the game on a scorekeepers error just before the two Pioneer 3s, but the mistake didn’t end up being costly. Reid had three fouls and was warned for a delay of game that was mistakenly recorded as a foul and he was whistled for a fourth foul at the 2:39 mark that became No. 5 in the confusion.
Nonetheless, the big fella had his season-high with 20 and Jackson added 10. East Ridge got 19 from Russell along with nine boards but no other Pioneer registered double digits.
East Ridge girls 51, Central 31: The Lady Pioneers used a 15-2 run in the third quarter to break open a close game and pick up their second win of the season, avenging a season-opening loss to Central in the process.
“This team lost 95 percent of its scoring from last year to graduation, but they’ve fought all year. I was happy to see them pick up another win,” said Goddard, who also coaches the girls squad.
Monique Baker led East Ridge with 20 points while Caisee Jordan chipped in 14 and Cherie Gamble another 11. Central got 11 from Ja’nya West.
Central 11 5 2 13 -- 31
East Ridge 9 9 15 16 -- 51
CENTRAL (31) – Simpson 3, Whaley, West 11, Griffith, Harrington 9, Taylor 5, Ladd, Casseus,Vaulx 4, Glenn.
EAST RIDGE (51) – Gamble 11, Jordan 14, Baker 20, Toney 2, Moton, Hubbard 4, Harvey, Willbanks.
3-point goals: Central 5 (Harrington 3, West, Simpson); East Ridge 4 (Gamble 3, Jordan)
Central 12 12 10 21 -- 55
East Ridge 12 11 12 11 -- 46
CENTRAL (55) – Morgan, Reid 20, McKibbons 4, Payne 4, Abshire 4, Jackson 10, Ervin, Bibbs 6.
EAST RIDGE (46) – Tremble 2, Williams, Hudgens 4, Stewart, Martin 8, Taylor 3, Garmany 8, King, Russell 19, Moffett 2.
3-point goals: Central 2 (Jakson, Abshire); East Ridge 7 (Russell 3, Garmany 2, Martin 2).
(Contact James Beach via email at email@example.com or Twitter @beachnut1134)