When Reicher coach Darryl McCoy arrived in Waco last summer, it didn’t take long to find out what he needed to do.
After all, it was all he heard about.
“When I first took the job at Reicher, the first name people said was Vanguard. We’ve got to beat Vanguard. The first team I knew about in our district was Vanguard.”
It took everything the Cougars had, but they got that done on their home floor Tuesday night. Payton Hill scored 14 points, and Vanguard missed three shots from 5 feet in during the final 30 seconds as Reicher escaped a game it led nearly the entire way, 64-62.
The Vikings led three times in the second half, but never by more than one. Still, they were ahead 61-60 with 1:35 to go after a Benton Mattson floater in the lane, but Chris Hovde made a pair of free throws 10 seconds later to give Reicher a lead it never let go.
Mattson made a free throw to draw the Vikings within 64-62, and Reicher’s Shay Hill missed a pair of free throws with six seconds left. Elijah Wade got the rebound and raced the length of the floor, but his shot that the buzzer went off the side of the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor.
Reicher students stormed the floor in celebration of the Cougars’ first win over their crosstown rivals for this senior class.
“All week we’ve been talking about seniors. We have seven seniors that had never beaten Vanguard,” McCoy said. “Our conversation was that we don’t lose to Vanguard at home. We knew we had to beat them at least once. The pregame talk was all about leaving it all on the floor, and that’s what they did.”
Noah Plsek scored seven of his 11 points in the first quarter and helped Reicher jump out in front. Hovde added 10.
Braden Black led all scorers with 21 points for Vanguard, and Wade finished with 10.
The Cougars (21-13, 5-2 TAPPS District 3-4A) scored layups on their first three possessions for an early 6-0 lead and pushed that to a 10-point cushion twice in the second quarter. The latter of those came at 33-23, before the Vikings went on a 9-0 run to get within one. Reicher stabilized with layups from Damion Wilson and Hill in the final 15 seconds for a 37-32 halftime advantage.
“(Getting the lead) was major. Usually we play from behind,” McCoy said. “Teams jump in front of us, and we fight hard to get back. Another thing we talked about was playing from the front. If we take the lead at the beginning of the game, we control the tempo. Now they’re doing something they’ve never done. We had the lead, so now they had to match up with us.”
Vanguard got even at 39 on a Black 3-pointer, then he put the Vikings (11-10, 6-1) in front for the first time with a three-point play at the 4:04 mark of the third quarter. But as it had in the second quarter, Reicher closed the third strong and clung to a 48-47 lead going into the final period.
The Cougars led by as many as six at 56-50 at the 5:14 mark of the fourth, when Shay Hill gathered in a block from Letrell Tourissant and scored a breakaway layup. That was Reicher’s last field goal, but it made eight of its 13 free throws down the stretch to hold on.
“I wanted to beat Vanguard because that’s the first thing they said. But I told them it’s just another district win,” McCoy said. “Our overall goal is to win the state championship. We’re pretty much guaranteed a playoff spot, so our season is bigger than Vanguard.”
Reicher 58, Vanguard 24
Madison Fetsch scored 13 points and Reicher dominated the last three quarters to run past Vanguard, 58-24.
The Lady Cougars also received 12 points from Rynda Maddox, and outscored the Lady Vikings 18-6, 14-4 and 16-8 in the second, third and fourth quarter, respectively.
Shaevy Hobbs had of her team-high 10 points in the first half for Vanguard.