BY JON REITER
JEFFERSONVILLE — Before last night’s showdown between visiting Evansville Reitz and the Jeffersonville Red Devils, the announcer introduced the new scoreboards adorning opposite sides of the William S. Johnson Arena.
Unfortunately, the final result that flashed on the scoreboards wasn’t to the home crowd’s liking. Jeffersonville battled gamely against the high-powered Panthers but unraveled in the final minutes of the game before falling, 67-56.
The Red Devils (5-10) were clobbered inside by 6-foot-6 Reitz forward Daimion Garrett, who finished with 30 points and 19 rebounds. But despite Garrett’s virtuoso performance, the Red Devils only found themselves down by two with 2:25 left in the game, 55-53.
But a series of turnovers, fouls and missed rebounds doomed Jeffersonville, which was outscored by Reitz 12-3 over the final few minutes.
“It’s always frustrating when you don’t finish the game like you want to, but they’re a good quality team that is used to finishing, used to playing well, and their record shows that,” Jeffersonville coach Jimmy Just said. “They’ve got a really nice team. For about 29 minutes, I thought we played really good ball, we just didn’t finish the way I wanted to.”
The Red Devils got off to a hot start, securing a 6-1 lead early in the first quarter following three-pointers on consecutive possessions by guards Brandon McGhee and Edward Wright-Baker. Jeffersonville held onto that lead for most of the first quarter, but a three-pointer from the left wing by Reitz forward Greg Moore with 2.3 seconds left gave the Panthers a 16-14 lead after the first frame.
Reitz led for most of the second quarter, but a 7-0 run keyed by three-pointers from reserve guard Steven Straight and Brandon McGhee gave Jeffersonville a 29-27 lead with three minutes left, and the game was tied at halftime, 31-31.
McGhee, who led Jeffersonville with 21 points, gave Jeffersonville its last lead by making the front end of a one-and-one for a 34-33 margin with just over six minutes in the third. Guard Tavaryus Gray answered on the next possession with a lay-in for a one-point, 35-34 Reitz lead, and the Panthers never trailed after that point.
Garrett made perhaps what was his biggest play of the game with 1:36 left in the fourth quarter. The junior rebounded a missed free throw by center Kevin King and laid it softly off the glass and into the basket, drawing a foul. He sunk his eighth free throw out of nine chances for a 60-53 Reitz lead and the Red Devils never threatened after that point.
“He’s a great player and he’s having a really solid year for us,” Reitz coach Michael Adams said. “He’s the kind of talent that guarantees us that he’s going to go out and get double-digit rebounds for us every night and sometimes he’s going to score a bunch of points for us.”
Just said he was encouraged by the close matchup against a team that had won 13 games in a row before falling last weekend, 55-54, on the road against 4A No. 1 Indianapolis Cathedral.
“You never like to lose, but this is a quality team,” Just said. “It’s all about getting ready for the sectional, and tournament time, and today I think we took a step in the right direction.”
EVANSVILLE REITZ 16 15 14 22—67
JEFFERSONVILLE 14 17 12 13—56
Evansville Reitz (14-3) — Garrett 30, Whipkey 13, Moore 13, King 6, Gray 2, Barrett 2, Julian 1, Buck 0, Thomas 0.
Jeffersonville (5-10) — McGhee 21, E. Valentine 11, Wright-Baker 5, Carter 5, Murphy 4, Miller 3, Straight 3, Parella 4, Buntin 0.
Three point field goals: Evansville Reitz 2 (Whipkey, Moore); Jeffersonville 9 (McGhee 4, Wright, Valentine, Miller, Straight, Carter).
Rebounds: Reitz 36 (Garrett 19) Jeffersonville 24 (Murphy 8).
Turnovers: Reitz 14, Jeffersonville 14.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Jeffersonville 52 (15-9-10-12-6) — Jacobs 10, Carter 9, Ewing 11, Miller 7, Maschmeyer 6, Poole 5, Fisher 2, A. Valentine 2, Dale 0, Hargett 0; Evansville Reitz 50 (11-15-11-9-4) — Kissell 11, Myers 15, Adams 9, Hudson 7, Parrent 5, Schutz 2, Gray 1.