REYNOLDS – Never underestimate the power of the teenage stomach.
Reynolds boys basketball coach Clint Loftin promised his players a trip to a popular fast-food restaurant in the North Buncombe district if they won last week.
You can bet that lure and more will be in the cards Thursday.
The Rockets (15-11) and Black Hawks (19-5) played for the Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A tournament championship last Friday in Weaverville with Reynolds pulling out a 66-61 overtime win.
They will take the same court for Thursday’s second round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
“It’s going to take a tremendous effort on our part,” Loftin said.
“I think this North Buncombe team is as talented as any I’ve seen around here since Pisgah’s state-championship team (in 2005). I think they are that talented and that good. But I know this about our kids, they are going to go up there and fight.”
Loftin is in his fourth year as Reynolds’ coach and a former North Buncombe assistant. Tuesday’s 62-58 home victory over Shelby Crest was the first state playoff win for Rockets boys basketball in more than a decade.
Reynolds led 20-12 after the first quarter, 37-27 after the second, and 47-42 after the third. Costa Poulos (20 points) and Weston Hurd (18) combined for 38 points, while the Rockets got eight from Zack Brown. Josh Jones gave out eight assists and Eli Jackson pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
“We just haven’t been able to get over that hump (of winning a state playoff game) until now,” Loftin said.
“This group has talked about it since they were freshmen. They wanted to be that first team to do this. (Crest) had some phenomenal players, but we were able to stuff the paint and tempt them with some (3-pointer) attempts. We also imposed our will and made them play our pace of the game. Our kids really understood the advantages we had and played smart.”
For more on Thursday’s game, go here.