Saturday, December 20, 2014

Basketball: AC's Reynolds is true leader

Basketball: AC's Reynolds is true leader

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By Phil Anastasia

Everybody wants to make the big shot.

Nobody wants to miss the big shot.

That's the rub for about 95 percent of the players in these games. But the top five percent -- the truly great athletes and genuine team leaders -- don't fret about the implications of failure.

They are special because of their willingness to accept responsibility and assume risk.

That's Atlantic City senior guard Dayshawn Reynolds.

Reynolds made a shot on Sunday that people in Atlantic City still will be talking about in 25 years.

It was a 25-footer this week.

It will become a 35-footer in the retelling by 2038.

But it always will be a three-pointer from way beyond the arc that tied the score at 48-48 with 37 seconds remaining in the Group 4 state championship game in the Rutgers Athletic Center.

"It was one of those moments," Reynolds said after Atlantic City, fueled by his remarkable shot and a pair of three-pointers in overtime by junior guard Isiah Graves, rallied for a 60-54 victory over Linden. "They (his teammates) count on me.

"I'd rather it all fall on me than anyone else."

That's true leadership, that willingness to bear the brunt of the burden for the team.

See, it's easy to rave about Reynolds since the shot hit nothing but net and the Vikings used the momentum of that moment to capture their second consecutive state title and third in the last nine seasons under coach Gene Allen.

But what might more telling than the success of the shot was the willingness to take it.

Allen said the Vikings had called a play during a timeout after Linden took a 48-45 lead on three-point play by Josh Carter with 0:47 on the clock.

Just 10 seconds into the ensuing possession, Reynolds saw an opening and let fly with the single biggest shot of the South Jersey basketball season.

"'Thank God,'" Allen said of his reaction when Reynolds rose up for the shot.

Here's what the coach meant: He was happy that his team wasn't going to waste critical moments looking for the perfect shot, only to rush to come up with an alternative as the clock ran down.

He also was happy that Reynolds was the player who seized the initative.

But he wasn't surprised.

"That's senior leadership," Allen said of Reynolds, a 6-1 left-hander who averages 10.2 points per game. "That type of player is rare to find. I may never get a kid like that again. He's special. He takes responsibility."

Reynolds' basketball heroics are somewhat surprising since football is his main sport. He's committed to attend Temple on a football scholarship, although he might attend prep school and join the Owls' program in January.

Reynolds' uncle, the late Jamar Reynolds, was a star running back on the only Atlantic City team to win a South Jersey title in football, beating the Adam Taliaferro-led Eastern team by a 31-29 score in the Group 4 championship game in 1999.

Dayshawn Reynolds was a first-team All-South Jersey wide receiver during the fall. He made 50 catches for 910 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"I'm committed to football," Reynolds said. "But I'm with this basketball team from top to bottom. I'd do anything for this basketball team."

Reynolds did something special on Sunday, making one of the biggest shots in the history of the proud program.

But to make it, he had to be willing to take it -- and that said as much about his leadership and competitive heart as the sight of that basketball splashing through the rim.

Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

 

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About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

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