Friday night was awkward for the Reed faithful.
For the first time since the 2010 season, the Raiders did not hoist a regional title trophy. Damonte Ranch stormed back from a 31-7 halftime deficit to knock the Raiders from their perch, 49-45, at McQueen.
The defeat ended several streaks for the Blue and Gold.
Five straight regional titles: Done.
Twenty-six consecutive wins against 4A North competition: Done.
Twenty successive victories in the regional tournament: Done.
Eleven unanswered wins this season: Done.
So, what now?
Many outside of the program look at the Raiders and see a crack in the armor. That’s fair. They finally lost. Damonte proved Reed is not unbeatable. But the 4A North would be advised to tread lightly next fall.
The Mustangs poked the bear.
Defending titles is brutally difficult and coach Ernie Howren did it four years in a row. Reed will not be the hunted next year. Instead, it gets to the be the hunter. And it has a heartbreaking loss to provide motivation.
Leading the team will be senior quarterback Cameron Emerson. Emerson was the best dual-threat quarterback in Northern Nevada this year. Next year, he will be one of the frontrunners to be named the 4A North Player of the Year.
Reed is down. There is no doubt. But it certainly isn’t out.
Nevada tops two-straight tournament teams
The Wolf Pack beat two NCAA tournament teams by a combined 40 points over the weekend.
Nevada (3-1) beat Oregon State on Friday night, 83-58, then Iona on Sunday night, 91-76.
So, Nevada is a tournament team in March, right?
It doesn’t work like that. But, after a forgettable season opener at No. 17 St. Mary’s, Nevada as clearly found its footing. This team has the potential to very good.
Transfers Jordan Caroline and Marcus Marshall have made an immediate impact. Cam Oliver is still a beast. The most notable change from last year, however, is the arrival of Elijah Foster.
Foster, a junior big man from Seattle, has reshaped his body in his two-plus years on campus and is playing at a level nobody outside the locker room saw coming.
In the win over Iona, he scored a career-high 21 points (on 8-of-12 shooting) and pulled down 10 rebounds. It was his second double-double of the week. In Monday’s 79-64 home win over Loyola Marymount, he scored a then-career-high 18 points (on 7-of-8 shooting) to go along with 10 boards.
Foster’s development adds another weapon to a team that is suddenly stacked.
In the grand scheme of the season, Nevada hasn’t accomplished anything of substance these first four games. There are a lot of big basketball games to be played.
The team has sent a message, though: It’s ready to make its presence felt in the Mountain West.
Nathan can be reached via email at email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning.