CENTRAL CITY, Ia. — Right as Nick Reid exited the Central City basketball locker room Friday night, teammates started lobbing in the playful jabs.
“Thirty-seven, that’s it?” one player asked. “That’s weak.”
So it goes trying to follow up a performance that still has people talking.
A few days have passed since Reid dropped a staggering 76 points on East Buchanan in Monday’s overtime win, but the disbelief remains thick from all who witnessed it. Teammates, coaches, community members — all of them — gush relentlessly about that historic performance.
The amazement only lingered after Iowa’s brutal winter weather postponed Central City’s next two contests. It wasn’t until Friday that Reid was back on the court since delivering Iowa’s highest-scoring performance in 90-plus years.
A Division I assistant was in the stands, as were numerous Central City supporters hoping to witness greatness again. It’s clear now that Reid could produce something special at any given moment.
“The best thing about him is — yeah, he’s tall — but there are a lot of 6-foot-6 kids who can’t score the way he does,” Central City coach Tanner Carlson said after Reid scored only 37 in Friday’s win over Starmont. “Everything he’s gotten, he’s earned. He’s out in his driveway shoveling snow to shoot hoops.
“He’s a great kid, and our other kids have really rallied behind that. I think that’s why everyone has been so excited for him.”
That excitement likely won’t pass for some time. Here’s Reid and others to guide you through the memories:
Aside from Reid’s scoring prowess, it’s been a seesawing year for Central City. The Wildcats entered Monday having dropped nine of their last 11 after a 6-1 start. Finding a spark would be ideal heading into the postseason.
In an ideal storytelling world, there would be some grand tale about how Reid knew this was going to be his night early in the day — maybe he’d had the perfect breakfast or couldn’t miss in warmups.
Not so much.
“I was a little worried, going into the game,” Reid said this week. “I didn’t get my usual shootaround in.”
Central City’s pregame itinerary included the 35-minute ride to East Buchannan. That meant Reid had to miss his afternoon college classes — but he also had to skip his normal pregame shootaround to catch the bus.
Knocking a player out of his routine can sometimes lead to futility.
Central City actually started slowly in this one and faced a 22-13 deficit after the first quarter. It took a second for Reid to warm up.
“I was missing most of my shots in the first quarter, and my coach told me I was kind of rushing things,” Reid said. “So then I had to pull back and trust my teammates more than I was. I was just forcing up dumb shots, but then, once I started getting better looks, they started falling.
“That gave me more confidence.”
The Wildcats were within seven — 36-29 — at halftime. Reid had 24 points despite a pedestrian start from outside, but Central City would need another boost to avoid an upset. East Buchanan entered 2-13 in its last 15 games, including one defeat to Central City already last month.
“He was 25 points away from being the school’s all-time leading scorer as a junior, so I was hoping he’d get that to get that out of the way,” Carlson said. “His 24 in the first half seems like a lot, but it didn’t really feel like it.”
There wasn’t a ton of attention on Reid’s scoring output yet. The tight score kept everyone lost in the game.
That changed soon enough.
The gameplan became quite simple after the break. As Reid started piling up the points — 38 in the second half, including 23 in the fourth quarter — everyone knew what to do.
“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” teammate David Warrington said. “We’d just give it to him every time, and he’d just take it right past the defense. There was nothing they could do to stop him. He’d score just about every time.”
With such little resistance inside, Reid didn’t need to expand his game beyond the paint. Almost every possession looked like a replay from the previous.
Catch the ball, dribble into and through a crowd — then lay it up, nail a short jumper or head to the line. It was a clinic on consistency and poise.
“My dribbling was probably the best thing,” Reid said, “because I had to split through double teams to get to the basket. I wasn’t really settling for threes, which — I’m mainly a shooter — but I was attacking the basket at will at the end of the game.”
That is, until Central City needed a desperate trey.
The Wildcats never found regulation separation even with the reliable offense. East Buchannan had a 72-69 lead with under 10 seconds to play — one stop away from withstanding the Reid storm.
Everyone knew where the ball was going.
Reid hadn’t hit a 3-pointer all night, but he calmly swished one from the top of the key with 3.4 seconds remaining to force overtime. The Central City bench erupted in jubilation. What’s an unforgettable performance without a little drama?
“It was amazing,” Reid said. “I was in the zone.”
Overtime & beyond
With 62 points heading into the extra session, Reid’s emphatic night was a secret no longer. The outcome was still in doubt, but that night had transformed into so much more.
East Buchannan had had enough. Reid poured in all 14 of Central City’s overtime points, including nine free throws to seal the 86-76 win.
“It was crazy to sit there and just watch it happen,” teammate TJ Ayers said. “The only thing I’ve heard of like anything like that is Wilt Chamberlain’s (100 points) and Kobe Bryant’s (81 points) — all NBA players. It’s crazy to see something like that here in small-town Iowa.”
Social media has its perks, and it showed in this moment. Reid’s ridiculous stat line — 76 points, 25-for-44 shooting, 24-for-27 from the line, 14 rebounds and four steals — quickly circulated on Twitter and Instagram. Carlson felt the impact before he’d even left the gym.
“I think my phone had 35, 40 messages from just random people who had already seen it on Twitter,” Carlson said. “In the fourth quarter, you could tell this was going to be a historic night.”
Yo @Nicklausreid u a bad boy!!! 76 points??? Definitely built different! Keep it up killa ✊🏿
— Peter Jok (@Jok_City14) February 5, 2019
The buzz hadn’t slowed much by Friday. People will remember Reid’s 76 for a long, long time.