Pressure defense from Totino-Grace's Seth Sullwold (middle) and Michael Waters (right) trapped Columbia Heights guard Tak Anwey in the Eagles' 74-71 home win. Photo by Rick Orndorf
The first time it took a Reggie Meyer buzzer-beater.
This go-around, Meyer had to pop in 28 points and No. 5-ranked Totino-Grace (21-5) needed just about every one of them in its 74-71 victory against No. 8 Columbia Heights (19-7) in a matchup of Class 3A powers on Monday at Totino-Grace High School.
"He's a heck of a player," Eagles' coach Keven Seim said about Meyer, a 6-foot-3 senior guard. "He competes every night and quietly scores a lot of points. We come into the locker room and wonder how many points he got. Was it 16 or 17, but then we check the sheet and its 30 or 31."
Meyer was hot from the start and never cooled off. He hit 3-pointers to kick-start the Eagles' offense and pulled up for a couple of huge jumpers late.
"We always know that we have to get the ball to the big guy," senior Colin Fleming said. "He always plays big for us, so we know that it's important to get it to him."
There is no doubt that Meyer can score, but it is his determination that is just as noticeable.
On the rare occasion he makes a mistake, Seim doesn't lecture him. If anything, Meyer will do the disciplining himself.
"He is harder on himself than we could ever be on him," Seim said. "He's a fierce competitor that does not like to lose and is very unselfish in that he just wants to win no matter what."
Meyer is averaging 25.4 points and in the two against Columbia Heights, he averaged 25.5.
"These big games you need your big players," Seim said. "He is one that you can count on."
Totino-Grace and Columbia Heights were in a winner-take-all battle for the North Suburban Conference title.
The Eagles had a 13-point lead at one point in the second half, but Columbia Heights wouldn't go away, much the same as in the first meeting.
Colton Williams led the charge for the Hylanders with 21 points, and Jarred Baptiste followed with 19.
"They weren't going to give up, and we knew that," Meyer said. "It was going to be a battle until the end."
Fleming was clutch at the end with four free throws in the final minute to ice it.
"He's a guy that you want to get the ball to in those situations," Seim said. "Very good shooter and confident at the line."
"We knew he was going to hit them," Meyer said. "That's why we look to get him the ball late."
Totino-Grace guard Reggie Meyer, left, grabs the opening tip-off over Columbia Heights center Jarrett Baptiste. Photo by Rick Orndorf