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Williams thrives in new role at Reed
by Aaron Retherford
Jan 21, 2008 | 705 views | 0 0 comments | 77 77 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<B>Tribune/Chris Ellis</b> - Reed senior forward Kayla Williams has helped lead the Raiders to two straight state tournament berths and hopes to make it a third this winter before joining the Nevada women's basketball team.
Tribune/Chris Ellis - Reed senior forward Kayla Williams has helped lead the Raiders to two straight state tournament berths and hopes to make it a third this winter before joining the Nevada women's basketball team.
There's no denying Kayla Williams comes from good basketball pedigree.

However, genetics only helps open a door to the gym. Hard work and her versatility has kept the Reed senior on the court and will keep her on the hardwood even after this season is done.

Working hard with her father, Williams will get the opportunity to play on the same court her father did while in college. Matt Williams played for the Nevada Wolf Pack from 1988-91.

Her talent earned her a spot in Reed's starting lineup as just a freshman. But the hours she's spent in the gym with her father and her cousin Omarri, Reed's starting point guard on the boys basketball team, have left her as the Raiders' leading scorer the past two seasons and with a basketball scholarship to the University of Nevada.

"She's in the gym doing 100 hooks, 100 up-and-unders and 100 pull-throughs. She does whatever it takes," Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper said. "Sunday, she's in the gym with her dad shooting for three hours and breaking down games. She has the best skills in the North of any post players. She knows where to catch the ball, where to isolate and how to finish. She gets that all going in the gym on her own and with her dad."

During her sophomore and junior campaigns, Williams was the "big girl" on the team. At only about 6 feet tall, that won't be the case at the college level. However, she's already been preparing for the transition.

Williams played on a couple teams last summer where she wasn't the tallest girl on the team, and it's the same this year at Reed thanks to the transfer of Danielle Peacon from Carson High, who stands at about 6-foot-2.

"My dad always told me in college I wouldn't be the biggest kid anymore, so I've always worked on my shooting," Williams said. "And this year having Danielle, she's more of a 4-5. It takes pressure off me having Danielle to pass to or she can pass it back to me. When you have two big girls like that, it makes it hard for (defenses) to choose."

Williams is glad she already has chosen a college and can focus on this season and her academics. She knows she is taking the classes she needs to graduate and won't have to take any summer classes.

Along with Nevada, Williams also considered San Jose State, San Francisco and Oregon, but in the end just wanted to stay close to home.

"It's going to be fun because I know so many people around here, and all my friends still get to watch me play," Williams said. "The team that is still here (at Reed) can come to my games. I can still watch my friends play here and go see my sister play at Mendive next year. I'm excited about that."

While Williams was the leading scorer the past two seasons for the Raiders, Schopper is looking to her in a more important role, which has limited her scoring some. Williams is averaging about 14 points a game.

Williams' versatility is helping her fit Schopper's new expectations for her.

"Our posts are my number one option. With Kayla, what we're working on is her in the high post and with her passing because in the next level Kayla isn't going to be a big girl," Schopper said. "She's going to need to see both sides of the floor and find the other big girl. My offense is running through Kayla, but not as the last few years where she needed to catch and finish.

"Now, she needs to catch the ball and see if she can get the ball over to Danielle or back out to the wing just to get her ready for the next level...She's not the number one person we're looking for to score. She's the person we're looking to pass the ball to the number one person to score."

Like any leader, Williams is looking to get the ball more. That could make things harder on opponents who already try to pack in their defenses in an attempt to stifle Reed's size advantage in the post.

"I don't think the ball was moved around enough to get the defense moving around for me or Danielle to get ball," Williams said. "We worked on it a lot in practice today, and I think these next few games we'll be moving the ball around a lot more to try to get it into the post."

During Williams' first three years at Reed, the Raiders have gone to three regional championship games, winning one of them. They also have reached the state tournament the past two seasons and advanced to the final game in 2006.

Williams would love nothing more than to finally win the state title and her coach can't wait to see how far she'll take them.

"The neat thing about her is she truly loves the game. She wants to compete. She wants to get better," Schopper said. "Leadership this year is something we've asked of her, and I think she's done well. She got 20 (points) versus Galena in our very first league game. She set the tempo for us. We rely on her a lot. I'm excited to see what she'll do in the next seven games and in Zone."

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