There was a similar incident during the D-I North prep girls basketball season this year.
When Reed standout Gabby Williams tore her ACL, it quickly became apparent how much she meant to the team and her teammates. Without Williams, there was a 44-point difference between the time the Raiders beat Spanish Springs by 24 with Williams on the court and when they lost to the Cougars by 20 without her.
And while Williams missed the final six D-I North league contests, including four High Desert League matchups, there was no ignoring what Williams did on the court prior to the injury.
The junior guard was named co-HDL Player of the Year along with Reno senior Gigi Hascheff. Williams averaged close to 30 points per game and racked up every other stat, pulling down over 10 rebounds, handing out six assists and blocking about 5.5 shots a game.
“She got Player of the State, too. They just emailed me last week,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper-Ramirez said. “She’s got a good shot at Gatorade Player of the Year. Gabby is a rare player. Her talent just sticks out when you watch her play. You’re amazed. She played the majority of the season. She did miss six games plus the playoffs. We wouldn’t have been in the spot we were without her early on in the year.”
Spanish Springs had a pair of players named to the first team all-league list in seniors Lyndsey Anderson and Riley Holladay.
Anderson led the team in scoring and rebounding at 12.8 points and 6.8 boards per game. Anderson shot 55 percent from the floor and a team-high 75 percent from the free-throw line.
“In my 12 years at Spanish Springs, there has been one other kid who brought the same intensity level everyday to practice,” SSHS girls basketball coach Christine Eckles said. “She really brings her best everyday. Her intensity level, attention to detail, playing big in big games. You can always expect she is going to come to play. It’s just been a great experience having somebody like that, not only somebody who can lead by example for the other kids, but it’s a pleasure to coach somebody who is able to do that. It’s really a special thing.
“It’s not that we don’t have kids who work really hard, but I do think for most people to bring their ‘A’ game every single day is hard and she’s able to do that. That’s one of the reasons she’s a Division I athlete. She has that work ethic and ‘X’ factor and self-motivation that really makes a difference.”
Holladay averaged 12.4 points a game, but was capable of putting up 20-plus on a given night. She scored a season-high 26 against Reed. Holladay was a solid all-around player, leading the team with 37 3-pointers, while averaging 6.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.4 steals per contest.
“I really feel like this was Riley’s best year,” Eckles said. “Midway through the season, she just came in with a whole new focus. Actually her and I were talking the other day. She said she just kind of got tired of feeling like she should be helping her team more. She just put that into practice. You have to practice at a high level if you want to compete at a high level in games, and I think that finally clicked for her.”
Also on the first team from the Rail City was Reed junior Tyler Sumpter, who scored around 21 points a game and picked up some of the slack after Williams went down with the injury.
“Tyler came in as a co-captain, but finished the year as one of our only on-floor captains. She had to take a lot of Gabby’s leadership roles and she stepped up really well,” Schopper-Ramirez said. “She still found ways to score, she created her own shots and had to handle the ball. She developed as a strong player in the North. She had a great year.”
Both Sparks schools had two members on the second team. Reed juniors Tina Vernon and Brooke Cervantes joined Spanish Springs senior Laneesha Terrance and junior Hannah Woytek.
On the honorable mention list was Reed sophomore Nakiyah LeSure, Spanish Springs senior KK Lang and junior Myrissa Prince.
In her final season on the sidelines with the Purple and Silver, Eckles was named co-Coach of the Year with Reno’s Shane Foster.
“It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers. I have much respect for all the coaches and the work we put in, so it’s a nice way to go out,” Eckles said. “It was a great season, and I’m definitely going to miss being part of that coaching circle and the friends and competition within that coaching circle. I’m very honored and humbled by it. The effort and execution my players put in each night on the floor is the reason my name got put in. It’s not just something about me. It’s really about a team thing and my assistant coaches.”
In the Division I-A North, Sparks senior Krystal Parker led the Railroaders’ all-league selections with first team all-league and second team all-state honors.
“She’s been a mainstay and a go-to girl,” Sparks girls basketball coach Frank Avilla said. “At times, it was a little unfortunate there was pressure put on her to carry the load. Her teammates looked to her to do that and she matured quickly. She did a super job of that. She led by example and continued to do that all four years at Sparks High School.”
Also for the Maroon and Gold, Roxie Guadron was a second teamer and Gabby Morgan was an honorable mention.