Williams only left the game for a minute at the end of the first half when she was hurt on a drive to the hoop. Williams sucked it up and battled a sore knee, scoring 21 of her game-high 33 points in the second half to lead the east Sparks school to a 64-60 come-from-behind victory over the Huskies. The win all but assures it of the High Desert League title and the No. 1 seed.
When no one else was hitting shots for the Raiders, it was Williams who was dropping in the points for her team. But when someone not named Williams hit the first 3-pointer for Reed in the third quarter, it was a sign things were about to change.
Reno senior Shannon Gough had just launched and buried a 3-pointer from way downtown, giving the visitors a 43-38 edge with 1:30 to play in the third.
However, the Raiders recalled their halftime conversation and they came down the court to find an open Sierra Hooft for a trey. Then Tyler Sumpter knocked down a 15-footer, tying the game at 43-43.
The Raider duo struggled mightily from the field. Sumpter has been hampered by calf problems, while Hooft would rather slash her way to the hoop. The two guards combined for 16 second-half points after only scoring seven before the break.
“We’re such a fast-paced team that sometimes we take that first shot instead of the best shot,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper said. “I just said to swing the ball around more and get the best shot. That’s how Sierra got her three wide open.”
The bitter rivals went into the fourth quarter in a 45-45 deadlock. While Reno controlled the tempo the first three quarters, Reed finally forced some timely turnovers and turned it into its type of game.
The Huskies turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter and allowed the Raiders to go up 52-47 with 5:47 remaining after Nyasha LeSure deflected a pass and Williams went the length of the court for a layup.
“Of course we usually like to control the game,” Schopper said. “I was never worried. I knew we were going to come out on top. My team is smart. When it comes down to gut-check time, they usually step up.”
A Reno timeout didn’t create any answers to the turnover problem. Williams found Hooft down low with a nice dish and Hooft’s layup increased the lead to a game-high 54-47 margin at the 4:57 mark of the final quarter.
“We didn’t handle their trapping zone very well. I couldn’t get them in the right spots, my fault,” Reno girls basketball coach Shane Foster said. “We didn’t handle that very well. We panicked a little bit. I think we had 24 turnovers tonight. That’s where we lost the game.”
However, the Huskies didn’t just hand the win to the home team. Reno battled back and put a scare into the Raider faithful.
Reed was still up by a half dozen until Morgan McGwire scored a putback and Shay Shaw drilled a three from the corner, slicing the Raiders’ advantage down to one with under two minutes to play.
Sumpter picked a great time to hit her first 3-pointer of the night, making it a 54-50 game with a minute and a half to play.
Reed went back up by six on a pair of free throws by Williams.
Gough drove to the hoop and scored with 46 seconds left, cutting into the Raiders’ lead, 60-56. Reno then caused Williams to turn the ball over at midcourt, but Gigi Hascheff missed a layup on the break.
Williams converted one free throw on a 1-and-1 situation at the line, but Gough took it the distance for an easy layup. That left the visitors trailing 61-58.
Again Williams only made one free throw, allowing Reno to cut the lead to two on a McGwire bucket down low with 13 seconds left.
Reed couldn’t get the inbounds pass to Williams. Instead, sophomore Brooke Cervantes got the ball and was fouled with 8.8 seconds on the clock.
Cervantes went to the line looking for her first points of the night and made it look easy, quickly knocking down a pair of free throws for the final 64-60 score.
“It’s good for her because she’s a sophomore, first-year varsity player. She has a nice shot, so it’s a nice confidence builder,” Schopper said of Cervantes’ game-sealing free throws. “If we get our bench finishing games for us, it makes us stronger for the playoffs.”
Sierra Sobrio chucked up a desperation three in the closing seconds, but missed.
Hooft finished with 14 points as the only other Raider in double figures.
McGwire paced the Huskies with 16 points. Shaw, who didn’t play in the first meeting between the two RHS squads, added 14, while Gough and Sobrio chipped in 12 and 10 respectively.
Friday night was a far cry from the first meeting when a run-and-gun style of play led to a high-scoring contest with the Huskies draining 11 3-pointers in the loss.
In the first half, Reno forced Reed into playing the Huskies’ type of game — push the action when it had numbers but run half-court sets for open looks when there’s no fast break.
Still, the Raiders were able to hang around despite shooting a meager 30 percent (8-of-27) from the floor in the first 16 minutes. In the first quarter, Reed missed six straight shots, but in the second quarter it was worse, seeing its offensive drought grow to nine straight misses.
Reno led by as much as seven in the opening quarter, following a Savannah Schulz swished trey from the corner, which made the score 11-4 with 2:15 on the first-quarter clock.
The Raiders closed out the quarter with the final five points on pair of free throws by LeSure and a three-point play by Hooft, leaving the home team behind 11-9 after one quarter.
Luckily for the hosts, Williams caught fire. Williams scored 10 of her team’s 14 second-quarter points, including a pair of threes. Williams’ first 3-pointer gave Reed its first lead of the game, 14-13. But the Huskies forged ahead by as much as eight thanks to an 11-2 run through the middle of the second quarter that made it 24-16 in favor of Reno.
Hooft made a layup on a backdoor cut and was the only other Raider to make a field goal in the second quarter. Hooft’s layup capped a minimal 7-2 run by the Raiders, cutting the deficit to 26-23 at the half.
Williams went off again early in the third. After the Huskies claimed a 30-25 advantage, Williams swung things back to the Blue and Gold side by pouring in eight straight points for a 33-30 Reed edge. The Raiders shot 10-of-15 in the third quarter to tie the game after 24 minutes of action.
Reed (14-2, 12-0 in Northern 4A) is back at home Tuesday when it hosts Damonte Ranch at 6 p.m.