That was until all-state guard Gabby Williams tore her ACL in the second meeting with Reno, the team that replaced Reed as the North’s best last weekend.
Even after Williams’ injury, it looked like Reed might be able to compete with the North’s frontrunners without skipping much of a beat. The Raiders won their first three league contests without Williams by an average margin of 35 points. However, the final three games on the league schedule proved how much Williams meant to the Blue and Gold.
Reed went from 43-point to 17-point victors over McQueen in the second meeting, a swing of 26 points. The Raiders saw a similar drop in margin versus North Valleys.
In the regular-season finale, Reed suffered a 20-point loss to a Spanish Springs squad it had never lost to and had beaten by 24 points a month earlier, which equated to a 44-point swing without the presence of Williams.
Williams, regarded as the second best junior in the country, averaged nearly 30 points a game and pulled down over 10 rebounds a night. She also dished out six assists and had about 5.5 blocks per game. Williams facilitated a lot of the offense, and while junior sharpshooter Tyler Sumpter averaged about 21 points a contest, Sumpter’s scoring dropped once teams were able to focus on her.
While this year didn’t end the way the Raiders hoped, with a regional semifinal loss, next year looks promising as all the key parts are expected to return.
“I think next year is going to be a great year because this year we had a lot of new varsity players getting into the system and seeing how we run things. They had to play without a key player, so that made them stronger,” Reed girls basketball coach Sara Schopper-Ramirez said. “Gabby should be back fully healed in January, when the season is really getting going. I’m excited to see what we do next year. I think I counted six seniors next year, so we should have some good leaders. I think they will be ready to play and get after it.
“Those six seniors are going to want to go out with a bang and get a title back. Get a regional title and have a good look at a state title. As long as everybody stays healthy and comes back fully strong, I think we’ll be right there for it.”
The boys basketball season started off slow for the Raiders, who didn’t get much practice time with their entire team early on due to the football team making it to state again.
Reed’s only win during its first five games was a non-league clash with Sparks at the Carson High tournament.
Once the team began to gel, the Raiders took five of the next six games to move over .500 for the first time in the season.
Reed had some hiccups throughout the season on the road. If any of those games had gone the other way, Reed would have earned the High Desert League’s second seed and hosted a first-round playoff game.
The Raiders lost by two at Hug in December after leading by 13 at halftime. In January, Reed fell in overtime, 82-78, after Reno’s Garrett Hampson sent the game into overtime with a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. Two weeks later, McQueen’s Kendall Dewees scored the game-winning basket with 5 seconds left in a 44-42 win over Reed.
The McQueen loss was the first half of a dismal offensive weekend for the Raiders, who followed up the 44-42 loss with a 52-43 loss to Galena the next day. The two defeats also made it much more difficult to claim the second seed.
A home game with North Valleys was all the Raiders needed to fire up the offense again as they scored 69 points in the win.
However, Reed struggled again in the regular season finale, falling at Spanish Springs, 57-48. The game left both teams tied in league play with a 9-7 mark, but the Cougars claimed the tiebreaker and the second seed.
It mattered little as both teams lost their playoff openers. The Raiders had their chances to upset Galena on the road, but saw a 13-point lead in the second half go up in smoke before the Grizzlies secured a 64-60 triumph.
“I don’t know if there was a single highlight that stands out,” Reed boys basketball coach Dustin Hall said. “I thought we played some good games, obviously beating Hug, which went on to win it all. To be honest, I really enjoyed the whole year. It was an awesome group of kids. The practices were always competitive, and they always came ready to work hard. They had a great attitude and great mindset. I really enjoyed the practices and being around that group of kids every day.”
A lot of Reed’s success this year came from the emergence of junior Trae Wells, who led the team in scoring and rebounding with 18 points and 7 rebounds per game. He was also very efficient on offense, shooting 50 percent from the field.
Fellow junior Alonzo Vega was also a bright spot for the RHS crew, scoring 12 points a contest. Senior Devin Gray missed about half the season due to a broken collarbone he suffered during the football season, but he came back and averaged 10 points per game.
“We lose eight seniors, so that’s always tough,” Hall said. “We do have a good nucleus coming back. Trae had an outstanding year. Alonzo, for his first year in the program, I thought he really had a solid year. Devin Herbert was a sophomore this year and when he was healthy, he started for us. I think he has a chance to be a pretty good player. So there’s a good nucleus of kids coming back, and that’s always exciting.”