Don’t include Reed senior girls basketball standout, and state record holder, Tyler Sumpter in the list of those snoozing.
Sumpter, a Native American living on the reservation at Pyramid Lake, wakes up 15 minutes before 5 a.m., everyday, to catch a bus to school at 5:45 a.m. That’s been her routine since seventh grade.
“You get used to it,” Sumpter simply said of the daily task that would make many seniors in high school grumpy just thinking about.
After grade school, Sumpter had her choice of attending Pyramid Lake High School, Fernley, Spanish Springs or Reed. She had played with her current RHS teammate and fellow senior phenom, Gabby Williams, since fifth grade so she said the decision to become a Raider was never difficult. Williams committed to UConn (No. 1 women’s basketball program in the country) this fall.
The two have since developed a bond as pure as Sumpter’s stroke, both on and off the court.
“They read each other so well,” Reed coach Sara Ramirez said. “Tyler knows when Gabby is cutting and where to stand for Gabby to kick her the ball and Gabby always knows Tyler’s there. It’s pretty hard for opponents to figure it out defensively and offensively.”
Their first year at Reed, the duo referred to themselves as ‘the freshman peeps’ in dedication to one of their favorite fluffy snacks and their names are saved as ‘bro’ in each other’s phones.
“It’s hard to shut both of them down. If you focus on shutting one of them down, the other one is going to get hot,” Ramirez said.
That was exactly the case Dec. 20 when Reed hosted Hug. The Hawks keyed on Williams, likely the best player in Nevada, and minimized her damage to 12 points.
Sumpter (averaging a team-high 24.4 points per game) went on to set a state record by hitting 14 three-pointers on her way to a 50-point night.
“It’s still crazy to me that I did it,” Sumpter said.
Sumpter said shooting is the best aspect of her game. Few would argue. She added that her shooting mentality and touch is a result of numerous Native tournaments she has played in, which are dominated by an up-tempo style of play.
Caught up in the moment of the game, Sumpter said she was unaware she was on the verge of entering the Nevada record books against Hug. As Ramirez and her teammates yelled from the bench, alerting her of what she was about to do, she didn’t comprehend while playing defense.
“Everybody just kept rebounding and giving it to me and I hit two and then I don’t know, they just all went crazy,” Sumpter said.
Her significant contributions to the success of the Reed girls basketball program has resulted in a level of special attention rare for even some of the most dominant high school stars, particularly within the Native American community.
“Native Americans, they’re really proud of me because a lot of kids come here from the reservation and they don’t make it in big schools and they don’t get to play basketball. They usually end up back at Pyramid Lake or at a smaller school,” Sumpter said. “So I think it was kind of cool that I got to make it.
And now there are little Native girls here that come up to me and want to have a picture or stuff like that. I think it’s cool. Then on Facebook they message me and say like ‘oh yeah I look up to you now. Can I come shoot with you sometime?’”
She said the recognition from her younger fans is more rewarding than her on-court successes. And she has had plenty of them. As a three-year starter, she played major roles in Reed’s North title her freshman year, state title (despite battling shin splints) as a sophomore and 6-1 start to this season.
“One of the greatest things about her is she is a gamer,” Ramirez said. “She was injured when we won state her sophomore year and she forced through it, played through all the pain and everything … When a kid, especially a young kid like that, gutted up and played through stuff like that, it tells you what kind of gamer she is.”
As one of Reed’s most dangerous “gamers” alongside her fellow “bro,” Sumpter has a legitimate opportunity to win her second career state title this season – 4:45 a.m. wake-up calls and all.