MOREHEAD CITY — The West Carteret girls basketball team entered its contest with undefeated Swansboro on Friday staring at a possible 0-3 week.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Patriots would have started 0-2 in the 3A Coastal Conference with a loss.
Mackenzie Reed made sure that didn’t happen.
The senior point guard went for a game-high 21 points and added seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block in a fine all-around game to help her team earn a 56-39 win over the Pirates.
“That was pretty good,” she said. “I think that was the first game that all of us worked together as a team and kept pushing. We got into the locker room and we were so happy, we were playing music, we danced, it was a big celebration after beating a 12-0 team.”
Swansboro wasn’t a squad that had built its record on a cupcake schedule. The team had beaten both Croatan (10-2) and East Duplin (9-3) on its way to a 12-0 record. The Pirates ranked 29th in 3A according to MaxPreps.
West entered the game with a 5-8 record and ranked 65th in 3A. The Morehead City club had fallen 62-51 to Jacksonville on Tuesday, Jan. 7 and 66-44 to Pamlico on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
“Going 0-3 that week, and 0-2 in conference, that would have been a larger mountain to climb,” Reed said. “If we lost, an 0-3 week would have rained on our parade. That wouldn’t have been too good.”
Going back to a 54-45 loss to Croatan before the holiday break, West was actually looking at a four-game losing streak had it lost to Swansboro.
The Patriots played their first game in 18 days versus Jacksonville, and it looked like it, turning the ball over 30 times in the 11-point loss.
“When we played Jacksonville, they were a good team, but if we would have played the way we did against Swansboro, I think we would have pulled that off as well,” Reed said. “We were pretty sad after that game. We felt they were a beatable team. Our turnovers were atrocious. We had to clean that up.”
West didn’t look much better the following day versus the defending 1A state champion, trailing 42-19 at halftime at Pamlico.
“We knew Pamlico would be tough,” Reed said. “I feel like in the first half we might have been checked out after that Jacksonville loss. We were on a different page and needed to get on the same frequency.”
Reed, who is averaging a team-high 13.3 points per game to go with 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 4.9 steals, credited the win over Swansboro to a chewing out from West coaches at the half versus Pamlico, resulting in spirited play in the second half. The Patriots outscored the Hurricanes 25-24 in the final two quarters.
“The coaches gave us a talking to, and I think that changed our mindset,” Reed said. “I was really happy about the second half. It carried over to Friday. We realize we could have played so much better. If we played the entire game against Pamlico the way we did in the second half, I wonder what would have happened.”
Reed had one of the best shooting games of her career against Swansboro, which has been a theme this year. She went 8-of-18 (44 percent) from the floor, 3-of-3 from the three-point line and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.
At 34 percent, she’s shooting about the same from the floor this season as she has during her career – Reed shot 35 percent as a junior, 33 as a sophomore and 31 as a freshman – but it’s a more efficient shooting percentage considering the degree of difficulty has gone up.
After attempting just 22 three-pointers during her first three varsity seasons, and hitting only two of those, she is 12-of-40 (30 percent) from beyond the arc as a senior.
“I’ve had a problem with shooting,” she said. “I wanted to have a higher percentage and shoot better on three-pointers. As soon as the season ended last year, I worked on shooting. I changed my form a little, and it’s paying off.”
She hasn’t slacked off on defense with her newfound focus on offense. Reed is approaching 300 career steals after averaging 4.9 this season, 5.5 as a junior, 3.1 as a sophomore and 1.8 as a freshman.
“Growing up, I was never a fan of offense,” she said. “I liked getting a steal and going in for a layup. I feel like defense always came naturally to me.”
Reed said she has wanted to play college basketball since her freshman year and is currently in contact with Barton. She sports a 3.0 GPA, meaning qualifying academically at the next level won’t be a problem.
Here are a few of Reed’s favorite things, as well as her ideal groups with which to eat dinner and survive a zombie apocalypse and the five items she would take with her on a deserted island:
Favorite Movie: “Good Will Hunting.”’
Favorite TV Show: “Naked and Afraid.”
Favorite Cartoon: “Danny Phantom.”
Favorite Band/Artist: Quinn XCII.
Favorite Song: “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock.
Favorite Book: The Martian by Andy Weir.
Favorite Team: Green Bay Packers.
Favorite Athlete: John John Florence.
Favorite Vacation: Thailand.
Favorite Hobby: Reading and sleeping.
Favorite Subject: History.
Favorite Quote: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” – Muhammad Ali.
Favorite Food: Tamales with rice and beans.
Favorite Drink: Dr. Pepper.
Favorite Restaurant: Ioanni’s Grill.
Favorite Season: Fall.
Favorite Sports Memory: My parents being at every game.
Favorite Teacher: Ms. Natalie Runyon.
Favorite Sport: Basketball.
Favorite Pre-Game/Post-Game Ritual: Watch videos of Sabrina Ionescu.
Favorite Website/App: YouTube.
Favorite Follow on Twitter/Instagram: Sabrina Ionescu.
Ideal Dinner Guest List: Neil Armstrong, Nikola Tesla, Harrison Ford, Leonardo da Vinci and Amelia Earhart.
Ideal Group To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse: Hanna Mason, Will Bodnar, Grace Faiella, Bella Olmstead and coach Lindsey Howell.
Items For A Deserted Island: Lifestraw water filter, first aid kit, supplies, machete, fire starter and a pot.