Spanish Springs did a good job defending the Raiders’ other standout players, but there was no defense for Williams, who torched the Cougars for 37 points in Reed’s 77-48 victory Saturday.
“She’s the best player in the North and she played like that today,” SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles said of Williams. “I was happy with the way we defended everyone else. Big, great players step up when their team needs them, and that’s exactly what Gabby did. I don’t know how you guard her. Last game we tried to run two people at her, but then everyone else went off on us. This time we tried to just keep it with one person on her, but I don’t think there’s anyone in northern Nevada who can guard her. She made her shots.”
Reed played into Spanish Springs’ hands early on, launching rushed shots from the outside by their sharpshooters that all missed their mark in the first quarter. What the Cougars didn’t count on was Williams shooting lights out from behind the arc.
Williams ripped the twine on all three of her first-quarter 3-pointers and sparked the defense with her athletic ability to help Reed insert some space between it and the Rail City rival from north Sparks.
The Cougars came out swinging in the grunge match, looking to avenge a 20-point defeat in December. Sam Owens chucked up and nailed a 3-pointer seven seconds into the game, giving Spanish Springs an initial 3-0 lead. It was also the largest lead of the game for the visitors.
However, it wasn’t the last for the Cougs.
A Riley Holladay trey from the corner pushed Spanish Springs ahead 8-6 at the 4:44 mark of the first quarter. That’s when Reed realized it was going to need to work a little harder to swat away the Cougars.
On the ensuing trip down the floor, the Raiders pulled down three offensive rebounds. On the third, Nyasha LeSure got her putback to fall and was fouled. She converted the three-point play for a 9-8 Raiders lead.
The Cougars led again after Lyndsey Anderson knocked down a 14-footer, but the 10-9 advantage was the last for the SSHS cagers.
Williams swished another trey and Reed scored six points in the final three minutes on steals in the backcourt, padding its cushion to as much as 10 points (24-14), following a LeSure steal and bucket right under the basket with 1:28 remaining in the first quarter.
Anderson answered with back-to-back buckets to close the gap to single digits as the Raiders took a 25-18 edge into the second quarter.
While Reed was on pace to put up 100 points, it slowed down the tempo coming out of the break between the first and second quarters.
“They’re a quick team. If you get in too much of a rat race with them, they can tire us out,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper said. “You pick and choose when to press and when not to press. I thought we got tired in the first half, so I had them back it up and we controlled the tempo.”
Reed sophomore shooting guard Tyler Sumpter finally found the range from downtown, knocking down her first 3-pointer of the game to push the gap back up to double digits, 32-22, with 5:43 on the second-quarter clock.
The Blue and Gold enjoyed a 38-25 lead after a LeSure basket down low, but Reed went scoreless the rest of the 3:07 in the first half. That opened the door for the Cougars.
Anderson scored consecutive baskets and Hannah Woytek did the same, including a 3-pointer.
Reed had a chance to add to its lead before the intermission in the closing seconds of the first half, but Williams missed three straight shots from point-blank range.
Initially, it appeared Spanish Springs missed out on its chance to cut the deficit to a one-possession game before halftime after the ball was knocked out of bounds with one second on the clock. But LeSure was called for a technical foul on the play.
Again, it appeared the Cougars missed out after Riley Holladay missed both foul shots. Spanish Springs got the ball on the sideline and somehow Woytek had time to catch the inbounds pass behind the 3-point line, turn toward the hoop, take one dribble and fire up a buzzer-beater, sending her team into the locker room only trailing 38-36 at the half.
Spanish Springs was able to get the margin down to one point in the third period, 41-40, at the 5:38 mark. But the Cougars never tied the game.
Instead, the upset-minded Cougars watched as the Raiders tallied the next 16 points over a four-minute span and the rout was on.
Reed outscored Spanish Springs 36-8 during the last quarter and a half, sparked by Williams‘ 22 second-half points. Williams also finished with 12 rebounds, seven steals and five blocks.
“When she found her rhythm in the game, she was doing it,” Schopper said of Williams. “She’s the key. People try to focus on pushing Nyasha out, but Gabby can jump so high and get rebounds. It changes the game.”
LeSure and Sumpter both added 12 points for the Raiders, who shot 28-of-52 from the floor.
Anderson paced the Cougars’ offense with 16 points — 14 of which came in the first half — on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Woytek made 7 of 8 shots for 14 points. But the rest of the team was only 9-of-41. Anderson also led the team with 11 rebounds, while MorningRose Tobey pulled down nine.
Reed (12-2, 10-0 in Northern 4A) looks to stay undefeated in league when it heads to Galena Tuesday night for a crossover league clash at 6 p.m.
Spanish Springs (15-6, 7-3) is also on the road Tuesday, but must go to Douglas for a 6 p.m. tip-off.