COQUILLE — Heading into its Sunset Conference opener against visiting Reedsport, Coquille’s boys basketball team had a game plan of forcing the pace, knowing the Brave doesn’t have a deep bench.
After a slow start, the Red Devils pulled away for a 64-41 win, improving to 10-1 on the season with the win in a battle of teams that entered the day in the top six in the Class 2A power rankings.
“We did a good job pressing, tiring them out,” said Coquille’s Ean Smith, who had a game-high 19 points.
Reedsport coach Allen Chaney never did sub in any players and Coquille took advantage of a couple of long scoring droughts by the Brave to break the game open.
Reedsport, which started shooting well, led most of the first period, with the biggest advantage at 9-4 after a hoop by Tyler Thornton. To that point, Reedsport was 4-for-5 from the floor with baskets by Javier Analco, Dallas McGill and Jacob Chaney (a 3-pointer).
But Reedsport largely went cold the rest of the first half, despite good passing that set up open shots, and Coquille surged in front.
The Red Devils finished the first on a 14-4 run and then scored the first 10 points of the second. Reedsport didn’t score in the period until a three-point play inside by Analco with 1:32 to go to half and got just one other bucket in the second, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jamison Conger.
That gave Coquille a 32-19 halftime lead and Reedsport never got any closer the final two periods.
Jace Haagen had a trio of 3-pointers in the first half for Coquille and the Red Devils used good passing — five players combined for 14 assists — to shoot better than 50 percent (28-for-53) for the game.
“I’m thrilled with the offense,” Smith said. “Everyone was shooting well, driving well, (and making back-door passes).”
Coquille coach Willy Layton said the Red Devils played well on offense.
“They’re unselfish guys,” he said. “They will make that extra pass.”
Jeremy Kistner had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Red Devils. Haagen added 11 points and four assists and Jaden Sperling had seven points and four assists.
Sperling also had four of Coquille’s 10 steals after an early pep talk from Layton that he needed to be playing harder on defense.
“He stepped up and played really good for us,” Layton said.
The coach added that Coquille did a good job running the floor, taking advantage of its home court, which is several feet longer than other high school gyms on the South Coast.
“The object was to get up and down the court,” he said.
Analco led Reedsport with 17 points and also had 11 rebounds and three blocks. Conger scored 11 points, shooting 3-for-5 from the 3-point line.
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But aside from those two players, Reedsport was just 6-for-27 from the floor, despite the open shots.
“If we don’t miss seven layins in the first half, we’re at least in the game,” Allen Chaney lamented.
But he added that he was proud of the team’s effort.
“I’m glad we hung in,” he said. “I’m glad we didn’t bail.”
Both Chaney and Analco said while Reedsport moved the ball well much of the game, it had lapses that led to turnovers and easy Coquille hoops.
“Sometimes our passes were amazing,” Analco said. “Others, it was, ‘Here, have the ball.’”
Analco said he was pleased with Reedsport’s rebounding, especially in the first half when the Red Devils had just two offensive boards.
Coquille expected a tough game from Reedsport, which entered with a 9-2 record after a strong preseason.
“It was a big-time win,” Smith said. “We need wins like this.”
Layton echoed those thoughts.
“They’re going to beat some teams,” he said.
Analco, meanwhile, said he told his teammates to keep their heads up after battling the Red Devils.
“I went in the locker room and told them, ‘Let’s get better from this game and when they come to our house, we’ll play our game.”
Reedsport has a difficult opening schedule with Toledo, ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll and power rankings, coming to town Friday, followed by a big home game against Bandon on Monday.
“We start off with the worst three we can start with,” Allen Chaney said.
Despite the loss, though, he’s excited about how his team has played this season.
Both Conger and Thornton are new to the squad and have fit in well for a team that starts five seniors.
“With two new kids that haven’t played with the other three, I really like they’re development,” he said.