Williams poured in a game-high 24 points, leading the Raiders to a 56-51 victory at Lawlor Events Center for the east Sparks school’s first girls basketball state championship in 19 years.
“Last night I’m not too proud of, but this game I felt we all came out hard,” Williams said. “Everything that has happened, last year and this year, every other game does not matter. We left it all on the court, and that’s all that matters.”
When Williams knocked down a 3-pointer two minutes into Friday night’s state final, the Raider faithful knew they were going to enjoy a special performance. Reno coach Shane Foster knew his team needed to combat that. The Huskies called a timeout, trailing 7-0, but the Reed momentum didn’t stop there.
Williams went coast to coast for a fast-break layup before the Huskies even turned around to defend, putting Reed ahead 9-0 at the 5:21 mark of the first quarter.
In a game shaping up to be similar to the Northern 4A regional championship, Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper knew a fast start wouldn’t be enough to hold off Reno.
“That’s what they do. We knew that. It was going to take all four quarters,” Schopper said. “I told them that Reno was going to make their runs but keep doing what you’re doing.”
Reno missed its first five shots from the field, but erased the goose egg off the scoreboard when Shannon Gough was perfect at the charity stripe, igniting a 7-0 run that brought the Huskies to within two points, 9-7, with 3:19 to go in the first. However, Reno wouldn’t get closer than two until the final minute of the half when the Huskies‘ long-range barrage finally pulled them back into the game.
After a Gough 3-pointer, cut the deficit to 13-10 with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Raiders took control with six straight points, capped by a Tyler Sumpter off-balance 3-pointer, increasing the lead to 19-10.
But Gough had an answer, dropping in her second three-ball and Reno’s third of the opening quarter.
A Nyasha LeSure free throw accounted for the 20-13 score after one period of play.
Twenty-two seconds into the second quarter, Williams dropped in a 3-pointer, pushing the gap to double digits for the first time of the game, 23-13.
That’s when the Huskies’ shooting display started. Gough and Gigi Hascheff knocked down back-to-back shots from downtown, pulling the Northern 4A runner-up to within four points, 23-19.
That was just the beginning. Gough hit her fourth trey, and after Reed went up by seven with 1:20 to go in the first half, Reno closed out the half with 3-pointers by CC Sobrio and Shay Shaw, making it a one-point game at the break, 31-30.
Reno scored 24 of its 30 first-half points from behind the arc to go with two free throws and a pair of 2-pointers.
The Huskies couldn’t find those open looks in the third quarter, enabling Reed to put some space between the two teams.
Both squads traded buckets to start the third, but Reed got two free throws from LeSure and Williams to break the streak of trading points after forcing the Huskies’ 12th turnover of the night with over three minutes on the third-quarter clock. Reno only had 11 turnovers a night earlier against reigning state champ Centennial and coughed up the ball 20 times against the Raiders, while forcing only nine.
Reed senior reserve guard Cori Gammon knocked down a 16-footer and LeSure ended a fast break with a layup that was started by another Husky turnover. A Williams putback right before the third-quarter buzzer concluded a string of 10 unanswered points, leaving the scoreboard to read 45-35 in favor of the Blue and Gold.
The Huskies only made one shot from the field in the third quarter and were held scoreless over the last 4:44.
That drought continued early in the fourth. LeSure scored on a nifty up-and-under move for the Raiders’ largest advantage of the contest, 47-35.
With seven minutes left, Sobrio ripped the twine on a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 spurt that recharged the Reno crowd and its comeback hopes.
Gammon, playing in the position that often gets ignored by opposing defenses, snuck behind the Huskies and scored down low on a wide-open bucket, ending Reno’s charge momentarily with her second huge basket of the night.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s incredible,“ Gammon said while trying to hold back tears. “It feels great to step up and help my team. It’s incredible. I’m speechless right now.”
With 3:23 on the clock, Reed senior swingman Sierra Hooft followed with her own make near the hoop, and Reed appeared to have put the game out of reach with a 51-42 edge.
Hascheff was not about to let her team fold, scoring the next seven points of the game, including Reno’s 11th trey. The spurt sliced the lead down to two, 51-49, but the Huskies only scored two more points over the final minute and a half.
Only two other Raiders scored in double digits. LeSure and Sumpter both added 11 points. LeSure also pulled down 16 rebounds for a double-double in her final high school game. She will take her talents to the Nevada Wolf Pack next year.
“I don’t even know what I’m feeling right now. There are so many emotions going through me,” LeSure said.
Hascheff led Reno (27-6) with 18 points, while Gough added 14. Gough did not score in the second half in a game that saw Reno only make three two-point field goals. It was 12-of-13 from the line.
Reed (23-2) finishes the season on a 16-game winning streak and did not lose in 2012. The Raiders also took down every Nevada opponent they faced, including the Huskies four times.