READING >> In a game that was billed as a preview for the possible District 3 Class AAAA title clash, Reading stole the show.
The host Red Knights faced an upstart Harrisburg squad in the finale of the four-game Geigle Shootout Tournament on Saturday night, and the crowd anticipated the most intense battle of the four-game showcase. It was the first time the two teams met since the 2011-12 season.
Instead, Reading — which had been on a roll with seven straight victories — kept itself on track with a 69-59 victory, a win that wasn’t as close as the final score most of the evening.
Khary Mauras and Lonnie Walker paced the Red Knights with 16 points apiece. The Red Knights placed two other players in double figures: Damon Stern had 11 and Tyree Gibson added 10.
Reading took a 36-28 halftime lead and upped the margin to 45-30 mainly thanks to Harrisburg’s sloppy play — eight turnovers during the third quarter — and cold shooting. The Cougars closed within 45-33 in the final minute of the third quarter.
But Reading (14-4) — ranked No. 7 in the District 3 Class AAAA power ratings coming into the contest – scored the first 12 points of the final stanza to put the game out of reach.
Harrisburg (12-5) managed to run off some late spurts to stay realistically close down the stretch. In an uncanny 37-second span, the Cougars notched eight points, three coming off a bucket and foul shot from Jahaad Proctor, who had a game-high 20 points.
Driving to the basket, Proctor fell to the floor when he was hit by an elbow from Reading’s Damon Stern, who was whistled for a flagrant foul in the process. Proctor, who is headed to Holy Cross next winter, had a 40-point performance over Carlisle earlier in the week.
The Cougars made another run late in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 64-56, but Stern hit two free throws with Harrisburg in the double-bonus that boosted the lead to 66-56 with 1:23 left in the game.
Immediately after the game, Reading head coach Rick Perez and Harrisburg head coach Kirk Smallwood had to separated at half-court by assistant coaches and Geigle Complex personnel as both coaches exchanged verbal jaws, apparently over the physical play between the teams all night.