Nick Reed thought he would be more disappointed when he received a letter in December he had been waiting on for months. The University of Chicago, the school that the Episcopal senior guard had hopes of attending to play basketball, had deferred his application, potentially leaving his future in limbo.
Instead, the note served as a welcome piece of confirmation.
A few weeks earlier, Reed had taken a visit to what had been his second choice, Rochester. Even amid the cold weather, the school, along with its basketball coaches and players, made a strong impression on the senior sharpshooter.
"That helped a lot and was a real eye opener for me because I really liked it a lot up there," Reed recalled. "From then on, even before I heard back from Chicago, that was my new number one school."
Last week, after Reed was accepted into Rochester, the Maroon senior made good on his strong affinity for the upstate New York school and committed to play there starting next winter.
"I really like the players and coaching style because it reminds me of how (Episcopal) Coach (Jim) Fitzpatrick is and the close family atmosphere at Episcopal," Reed said. "The only bad part is it's cold. But I can live with that."
In Reed, Rochester gains a savvy player with a soft touch from the outside and an evolving skillset that's allowed him to be effective from both guard positions.
On Saturday, those attributes were on display during a narrow contest at Bullis. With the Interstate Athletic Conference regular-season title on the line, the Maroon saw their 10-point lead quickly vanish in the fourth quarter. But much like last year's conference tournament final, when Reed sliced into the lane for the game-winning bucket, the senior led his team with poise.
Along with scoring 14 points, including three three-pointers and hitting all three of his free throws, Reed fed the hot hand of George Mawanda-Kalema (27 points) and Xavier Johnson. The trio combined to knock down 13 threes and help Episcopal fend off Bullis for the regular-season crown and top seed heading into this week's tournament.
"Any win is a good win in the IAC, but this was huge in getting homecourt advantage in the tournament with us trying to defend our title," Reed said. "Our main goal is to win the tournament championship, not just the regular season, so getting that game helps."
It also helps having Reed, the leader of an experienced Maroon squad that's won eight of its last nine games. Like last season, Reed is averaging 17 points, but the production of his teammates have spiked as he's refined his skills as a passer, rebounder and overall facilitator.
"I'm just trying to be a better leader," said Reed, who transferred to Episcopal prior to this junior year after playing two seasons in Kentucky. "I don't take as many shots as I did last year, but that's my goal in trying to be more efficient and help our team reach our goals."
NUMBER CRUNCH: 4
Consecutive Maryland 3A/4A dual meet wrestling titles won by Damascus, a state record, following Saturday's triumph led by Colin McLaughlin.
PHOTO GALLERY OF THE DAY
Saturday marked a night of redemption for Madison's T.K. Megonigal and Westfield's Jay Aiello while Battlefield repeated as team champ at the Virginia 6A North region wrestling tournament. Check out the story and photos.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Loudoun Valley's boys' basketball team routed Stone Bridge at home Saturday to cap its first undefeated regular season.
- Freshman Julia Hays led Yorktown to the Virginia 6A North region gymnastics crown while Hayfield senior Molly Overstreet fought off injuries to secure a return trip to the 6A state meet.
- Overconfidence following a hot second-half stretch doomed Severn in a 48-44 loss to St. John’s Catholic Prep in Sunday’s Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland Conference B girls’ basketball championship.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
More snow, more ice
Schools were already closed Monday for President's Day but following an overnight snow storm, some teams' plans to make up the games postponed by Friday's (lack of) inclement weather were again delayed. In the meantime, stay warm and stay safe!