Reed is going to be so young this season that its two sophomore standouts competed for the title of captain in tryouts.
Point guard Serene Townsell-Williams and guard Taylor Johnson will share the honor after being named to the High Desert League first and second team respectively.
Behind them, the roster is made up of four juniors with limited varsity experience as a whole, one other sophomore and three freshmen. Not a single senior is on this year’s team.
But that doesn’t mean coach Sara Schopper-Ramirez is watering down expectations.
“I want to be in the top two (of the DI North),” she said. “Reno is going to be tough to beat. Manogue has a few returners but I think if I can get my squad going and with the potential they have, they’ll be right there at the end of the season.”
The young squad will have to find a way to fill the void left by the graduation of post Nakiyah Lesure who averaged a double-double last winter (15.6 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per game) and point guard Aneesa Mwakapumba, who scored almost eight points a game.
Six-foot freshman Tori Baer will be asked to form a presence down low and newcomer Vanessa Hernandez will likely manage some of the ball handling formerly taken care of by Mwakapumba.
With so many new faces stepping into important roles, however, this season’s success will largely be determined by Townsell-Williams and Johnson. The two have suddenly been thrust into leadership positions as underclassmen.
“They’re the leaders … They’re my captains. They’re the ones that are going to have to lead this young team to some wins,” Schopper-Ramirez said. “They’ll need to step up and learn to finish big games and get their teammates on the same page.
“They have to stay out of foul trouble because I have to keep them on the floor.”
Townsell-Williams was the team’s second-leading scorer a season ago, dropping in 11.4 points per game while passing out a team-high 3.3 assists per night. Johnson, a spot up shooter, was the team’s third-leading scoring, going for nearly nine points per contest.
The Raiders will get a true feel for where the stack up in the DI North tonight, when they open their season at Bishop Manogue—last year’s DI North champion.
Tip is at 5:15 p.m.
Said Schopper-Ramirez: “It puts us right in perspective where we need to be at the end of the season.”