EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Reitz High School boys basketball team overcame its fair share of obstacles against Castle, winning the program’s first sectional championship in four years in a 69-61 victory at on Saturday night.
For starters, five-star junior guard and Indiana commit Khristian Lander sat on the bench for the majority of the first half after getting saddled with foul trouble. However, Lander’s teammates were up to the task of carrying the load in his absence as junior Owen Dease and senior Mar’Quon Givens combined to score 25 points, giving the Panthers a five-point advantage at the half.
After extending its lead to ten points in the second half, Reitz (17-7) survived a furious comeback from Castle (12-11) in the final minutes, as Givens knocked down a few clutch shots down the stretch to seal the deal for the Panthers.
Needless to say that Lander praised his teammates for stepping up when it mattered the most.
“I knew my teammates would come through and hold it down for me,” Lander said. “They came through really big time - Mar’Quon, Owen and the rest of the team, so I really wasn’t worried about it. They came in ready to play.”
Reitz head coach Michael Adams agreed with his star player’s remarks about his teammates.
“Our senior Mar’Quon Givens was huge and Owen Dease had an incredible game,” Adams said. “Really everybody that had a chance to play did their role and did a nice job.”
While the Panthers guard spent large portions of the game on the bench, Lander’s teammates say he still made a significant impact, even though it was more in the form of inspirational pep talks on the sideline.
“He got in foul trouble early, so we just had to keep playing aggressive,” Givens said. "Khristian was talking to me on the bench, telling me what to do, and guiding me. I’m a senior and I’m a leader, but he’s our leading scorer - that’s my brother. I listen to him and he listens to me. He told me to keep attacking, and that’s what I did and we got the (win).”
Reitz will now head to Seymour next weekend to face off against Greenwood (19-6) in the Class 4A regional tournament.
The winner of this matchup will take on the winner of Bloomington South (26-0) and Floyd Central (18-6) in the regional championship game, which is scheduled to tip-off on Saturday night.