With its top three scorers from last season's surprising run graduated, the fourth sidelined with a shoulder injury and the first few games rescheduled because the school's football team just wouldn't lose, Reed's boys basketball season was off to a far-from-ideal start.
But the Raiders have more wins than losses thus far and still are in position to make another run.
They have Trae Wells to thank for that.
To say the junior forward ramped up his game wouldn't do justice to the strides Wells made in less than a year. Wells averaged 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds last season. Today, he averages 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.
"We had really high expectations for him," Reed coach Dustin Hall said. "He's been in the program a couple years now, and we thought he was going to be a really good player. But he's playing at a really high level right now. He's really been a rock for us."
Wells, who eclipsed 20 points in seven of the Raiders' 13 games, credited a bump in confidence for the boost in production.
"I had a low confidence level last year, and I felt like it would be better if I let my seniors take over the games and I would just do my job on defense," the 6-foot-2 Wells said. "This summer, I really got my confidence up. Everything started falling for me.
"My confidence comes from my teammates always building me up and having my back. I get nervous before every game. But I still feel like there's not any pressure. If I do have a bad game, I know my teammates will pick me up."
Wells' new-found self-confidence was obvious to his coach and teammates.
"There are sometimes when he misses a shot that he'll get down in himself," senior guard Devin Gray said. "But we all boost him back up because when he's confident is when he's at his best."
Wells' rise was welcomed even more because Gray missed the Raiders' first 11 games with a shoulder injury.
"Everyone has that thing in them where they feel like they have to step it up if someone is missing," said Wells, who shoots 49 percent from the field and averages 2.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
Wells, though, was coming off a broken wrist he suffered at the end of the summer that limited the number of offseason shots he took before the football season started. Wells was a receiver on Reed's region championship team.
"It started last spring," Hall, Wells' coach, said. "We started playing and all of a sudden his aggression went up, his confidence went up. But he's always been a really talented player. Since seventh grade, we've had our eye on him. He's just coming into his own this year. But because of that wrist injury, we thought it might be an even slower start for him this year but he jumped right into it.
"When the ball is in his hands, he almost always makes the right decision. He's aggressive. He gets in the paint a lot. But he also leads us in, well, he leads us in everything. He's got good vision, a good feel for the game and he rebounds the heck out of the ball. He is one of those kids who makes everyone else on the court better, and it's been huge because we've had a lot of injuries and sickness. But he's been one of the guys who's been solid and who we can count on every night.
"I think it's fair to say he's surprised a lot of people so far."
Do not count Gray among those.
"I'm not surprised. I've known Trae a long time," Gray said. "I know how he can play."
Sparks, Hug, McQueen, Wooster, Incline, Bishop Manogue and Douglas -- the teams against whom Wells eclipsed 20 points -- now also know.
"But I don't think he'll surprise anyone anymore," Hall said.
North Valleys used a box-and-one defense against Wells on Tuesday. Wells, who played with a 102-degree temperature, finished with 10 points but Reed still earned a 16-point victory.
"He handled it great," Hall said. "That was a first for him. They really keyed in on him. ... We drew a couple things up and he made plays for other guys. We have enough players on this team that we're comfortable and he's comfortable letting them take the lead if necessary.
"I think teams will start to do some different things with him because he's having such a good year."