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Basketball

Highlands topples Knoch in seesaw Section 1-AAA contest

| Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, 10:33 p.m.
Highlands R.J. Rieger drives past Knoch's Devin Campbell during the first half Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.
Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
Highlands R.J. Rieger drives past Knoch's Devin Campbell during the first half Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.
Knoch's Mac Christy, left, and Austin Hannes control a rebound against Highlands in Harrison on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.
Eric Felack | Trib Total Media
Knoch's Mac Christy, left, and Austin Hannes control a rebound against Highlands in Harrison on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.

Highlands junior guard R.J. Reiger made only one shot Tuesday night.

But what a key shot it was.

Reiger's 3-pointer from the corner with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left gave the Golden Rams the lead for good and an eventual 50-45 victory over Knoch in a Section 1-AAA contest.

Highlands was just 2 of 17 from 3-point range, but the second make was important.

“R.J. Reiger's big 3 down at the end was definitely big,” Golden Rams coach Tyler Stoczynski said. “He kept getting great shots, and that's just the unselfish nature of our guys to keep giving him shots he normally makes. Not only that, but Mitch DeZort was really strong the last couple of minutes.”

DeZort led the way with 19 points, eight in the fourth quarter.

Highlands is 3-2 overall and 2-0 in section play. Knoch slipped to 1-4, 0-2.

The Knights executed their game plan of slowing down the Golden Rams.

“The last thing we wanted to do is let Highlands get unleashed,” Knoch coach Ron McNabb said. “We know they love the up-tempo game, and I thought we did a real good job in slowing it down.”

The Knights held a 24-21 advantage at halftime, but they turned over the ball on each of their first three possessions in the second half, resulting in Highlands baskets.

McNabb was forced to call a timeout, and his team responded with a 10-0 run.

“I was real proud of our guys,” McNabb said. “I was happy with the way we came back and took the lead.”

That surge forced Stoczynski to spend two of his timeouts.

“This early in the season, we're still trying to teach a lot,” the fourth-year coach said. “Our team has an opportunity to grow so much. We're trying to learn and get better every day.”

The Golden Rams had a chance to regain lead late in the third quarter, but a steal by Devin Campbell and a bank shot by Aiden Albert put Knoch in front 36-33 with one quarter to play.

DeZort's steal and drive with 3:07 left in the game gave Highlands a 41-40 advantage.

A pair of free throws by Jackson McKee gave the lead to the Knights, setting the stage for Reiger's big shot.

Jamison Nee, who was honored before the game for surpassing the 1,000 career-point mark last week, finished with 12 points.

Highlands' Levontae Martin had 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

P.J. Gourley came off the bench to lead Knoch in scoring (11 points) and rebounds (seven).

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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