First of all, it was nice to see two North teams playing for the title. I’m sure the NIAA was happy also, watching thousands of local fans rolling through the doors.
The championship showcased the two biggest rivals in the North with two of the biggest fan followings. That made for a loud and electricity-filled atmosphere for a game that featured big runs by both teams.
Not only was the large crowd good for the fans‘ enjoyment, but it was also good for the girls playing. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of those players — to compete on a Division I university’s basketball court in front of thousands. That’s something these girls will never forget.
The second thing I liked seeing was Reed winning.
It’s not because it's the team we cover on a regular basis and probably the team I personally see the most every year. As a journalist, I’m supposed to remain unbiased right? OK fine I do like seeing teams we focus on succeed more than the Reno or Las Vegas schools. Call me a ‘homer.’
But the main reason I wanted the Raiders to win was because they had already beaten the Huskies three times. Can you imagine how devastating it would be to defeat a team all three times you played it and then lose in the biggest game of the season? But frankly the Raiders deserved it. Reed was the better team this year. The Raiders proved it every time the two teams met.
Reno is obviously talented, disciplined, well-coached and a tough matchup for many teams. The Huskies have four shooters and they proved how challenging it is to guard all of them simultaneously. Like the first time Reed and Reno played this year, the Huskies knocked down 11 shots from behind the arc in the state championship.
At the time, Reed coach Sara Schopper wasn’t concerned her team allowed 11 3-pointers in just the third game of the season for the Raiders. And it didn’t matter in the final game either as Reno only shot 14-of-44 from the field.
Reed never trailed in the state final. There were two ties after the opening basket at 33-33 and 35-35. However, in my opinion, it felt like the Blue and Gold was only seriously threatened twice at the most. The Raiders also came through in the clutch when they needed to after each time Reno attempted to take the lead.
It was just like the regional championship in that aspect, which despite the close score throughout most of the game, I never felt Reed lost control. It was always Reno trying to play catch-up.
The only time I thought Reed would lose to Reno this season was the 64-60 game at the east Sparks school. The Huskies completely dominated the rhythm of the High Desert League clash for most of the first three quarters.
But Gabby Williams was unstoppable in the crunch time, scoring 21 of her game-high 33 points in the second half of the come-from-behind win.
That showed me Reed was the team to beat and the Huskies would need to pull out something special to knock off the Raiders.
Speaking of Williams, the third good thing to see Friday night was her rebounding from her poor offensive performance in the state semifinals.
When she nailed her first 3-pointer two minutes into the state championship, I thought the game was over — not literally of course. If Williams’ outside shot was falling, I didn’t see any way the Huskies could stop her and they didn’t as she scored a game-high 24 points and could have much more if some missed layups didn’t spin off the rim.
The fourth thing that was fun to watch was the re-emergence of Reed senior post Nyasha LeSure as an unstoppable force in the paint. It was obvious LeSure was pumped up to play on her future home court at Lawlor. Defensively, her feet were more active and she hustled all over the court. On the glass, she was a beast, pulling down 16 rebounds in the championship, including one while sitting on the hardwood — not kidding. And offensively, she was solid.
Finally, it was good to see senior Cori Gammon contribute to the state championship win with a couple of key buckets in what turned out to be a five-point final margin. Gammon isn’t the most skilled player on the court. Softball is her main sport. Throughout the season, she played only a handful of minutes in games and rarely scored. But she was all tears after the game and you know she will treasure that moment forever.
Congratulations Reed. You deserved to hang this banner as the best girls basketball team in the Silver State.