The Lady Raiders had been chasing a state title that had eluded them for 19 years after the program had collected three straight from 1991-93. While the goal was always the same each year, the end result always managed to escape their reach. This year though, the Raiders finally seized the crown with a 56-51 victory over Reno to satisfy their two-decade long craving.
En route to engraving their names in the prep record books, Reed posted a perfect 16-0 Northern 4A record to take the regular season title before also grabbing a regional championship. Those efforts have earned the Reed girls basketball squad the 2011-12 Sparks Tribune’s Girls Team of the Year honor.
Over three months after celebrating that night, members of the historical Blue and Gold team are still trying to grasp it all.
“It was surreal,” senior Cori Gammon said. “I remember I was just crying hysterically the whole time. It was tears of joy but it was just crazy. It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. You still get the chills every time you think about it. It’s a huge deal. We finally won state. Our banner will be in here for as long as Reed is.”
Senior teammate Nyasha LeSure echoed the same sentiments.
“Looking back, I’ll never forget that day,” LeSure said. “Being able to spend it with the girls that we spent it with, it was just an amazing feeling. Still to this day it’s kind of unreal. I wear my state ring everywhere. I’ll always cherish that day.”
Led by sophomore HDL co-Player of the Year Gabby Williams, Reed had all the pieces in place to complete the puzzle. A trio of first-teamers in LeSure, senior Sierra Hooft and sophomore Tyler Sumpter helped the cause while all-league honorable mentions Makaela Moore and sophomore Brooke Cervantes anchored the squad. The talent level was not what pushed the Blue and Gold over the hump though.
“Our team was really close,” Hooft said of what made her team special. “We all had a really good bond together. No one was doing it just for themselves. We all wanted it as a team. I don’t think we would have gotten there if we weren’t so close.”
Reed coach Sara Schopper agreed.
“I’ve been the coach for seven years and this group of girls is one of the best I’ve ever had just because of how unselfish they were with the basketball,” Schopper said. “It’s rare. These kids were all there for each other and for one purpose. They showed that every time they got on the court.”
Aside from the chemistry, another reason was the fact that the team would not settle for anything less than a state banner.
“This year we were more determined to finish it off strong,” LeSure said. “We had seniors that have been here since freshmen year so we’ve experienced that loss in both state and regions. We just knew we didn’t want to go out like that.”
Schopper witnessed that resolve show through after the Raiders won at regionals.
“After the regional championship I saw the look in the girls’ eyes and they weren’t done yet,” Schopper said. “They still had a lot of fire in them and they weren’t going to just settle for a regional championship. They wanted it all, so when they had that look and determination I knew anything was possible.”
That desire paid off with the ultimate goal for Reed. While the girls on the court were the ones to hoist the state plaque, the title was not just for them.
“Playing at home in front of our fans we got to share it with our families and school,” Schopper said. “A lot of past players who have played for me or been a part of Reed were there and I kind of felt like they won it. too. We have been there so many times in the state tournament and it’s right there for the taking and we could never get it. Even though they weren’t playing, they were there and it was like they were a part of the honor and moment as well. We weren’t only winning it for our team this year but for all the teams that had gotten so close but couldn’t accomplish it.”
Although a key component of the championship force will graduate in less than a week, the memories of the year they brought the top prize back to Reed will always live on for the Raiders.
“It’s something that I’ll never forget,” Moore said. “It just made my senior year that much better. Not many people win a state championship. We brought that to our school and that’s something we’ll always share.”