Running down court holding a hand above his head, Camron Reedus skipped and hopped a few times before turning around to play defense.
For the Austin High guard, shots were falling. Lots of them.
How hot was the sophomore guard?
At one moment in the third quarter, the "R" in Reedus could have stood for red hot. He sank three consecutive 3-pointers, sparking a run that blew open a close game as Austin advanced past rival Decatur 65-45 Friday night in the opening round of the Class 6A, Area 16 tournament.
Austin (18-7) advances to face James Clemens on Monday for the Area 16 title.
With the semifinal wins, both Austin and James Clemens secured spots in next week's sub-regional round of the postseason.
"I wasn't keeping count of my points, but I was feeling it," Reedus said. "A game like this, playing Decatur on our home floor in this kind of atmosphere, you want to play well in those games. But I just blocked all of that out and did what I had to for my team."
The semifinals marked the first time Austin and Decatur's boys basketball teams played their River City rivalry on the floor at Joe Jones Gymnasium since 2005, and fans packed the building to witness the event.
By 4 p.m., students from both Austin and Decatur were lined outside around the building. School officials opened the gate at 4:40 p.m., and by tipoff at 6 p.m., the building was near capacity.
School officials temporarily closed the gate after tipoff, not letting anymore fans into the building until after some of the Austin-Decatur crowd dwindled out after the game. A crowd of Florence and James Clemens fans, whose team played in the other semifinal, were waiting outside the gymnasium when the game ended at about 7:30 p.m.
"That was one of the most fun games I've played in," Austin point guard Everette Mayes said. "With so much on the line, and with the best environments we've had here, this was one of the biggest games I've played in."
The overflow — and cramped — crowd got to see a close first half. Decatur used a run late in the second quarter to pull within six by halftime. Chandler Boy led the Red Raiders with 12 points, while Sean Elliott, Cameron Twitty and Na'Vante Williams each scored eight.
"Camron Reedus shot the ball extremely well for them, and they're playing really well right now," Decatur coach Jamie Lee said. "But I do want to say this about our team. From where we started in November and where ended the season, I couldn't be prouder of how much our team improved.
"We might not have got the ending we wanted, but from a standpoint of working hard and having a group of guys put everything they have into the team, this was a pretty good season."
Decatur couldn't keep pace after halftime. Austin shot 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
The third quarter was the difference. Reedus scored 11 of his game-high 24 points during a 17-7 run, and Everette Mayes nailed another 3-pointer to push the Black Bears lead to 16.
Mayes finished with 20 points and six assists.
"We knew they were going to try and take Malique (Elliott) and our guys under the basket out of the game, so we had to have guys step up and make shots on the perimeter," Austin coach Demond Garth said. "Those shots were huge. We wouldn't have won without them."
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at email@example.com.
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