There were not any tears shed at Reed’s Senior Night last year.
There weren’t pregame speeches read from notecards. There weren’t balloons tied to flowers. There weren’t even hugs.
That’s because there wasn’t a Senior Night.
The Raiders did not have a single senior on their roster, so everyone from last year’s team is back. Most will be back next year, too. In Reed’s regional quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Bishop Manogue, the starting lineup consisted of two sophomores and three freshmen.
An abundance of young talent already with varsity experience has 12th-year coach Sara Schopper-Ramirez thinking big.
“Our goal this year is to hang some banners,” she said. “Start with the regional banner then hopefully work on to state. We’re already looking at banner talk with this potential we have on the floor.”
Here is why Reed’s coach doesn’t hesitate to look long term: She brings back junior Taylor Johnson, a first-team all-league guard last year, junior guard Serene Townsell-Williams, a second-team all-league selection, sophomore guard Vanessa Hernandez, who burst onto the scene as a freshman and landed on the second team, and sophomore honorable mention center, Tori Bear.
That’s just who is returning.
Sophomore shooting guard Janae Bluehorse joins the mix after transferring from Douglas, where she was a second-team all-league selection as a freshman. Schopper-Ramirez also adds freshmen guard Autumn Wadsworth, who is expected to make an impact.
“I told the parents at our parent meeting that this, talent wise, is probably the best team I’ve ever coached,” said Schopper-Ramirez, who led the Raiders to a state title 2012. “I mean we have all the spots. I have eight to 10 girls who play basketball. That’s what they do. I’ve never had a team this deep before.”
Standing in Reed’s way will once again be Bishop Manogue, the two-time regional champion that brings back the best player in the 4A North, Katie Turner, as well as Reno. Now former Husky star Mallory McGwire is now playing at Oregon, but several key contributors are back this season.
The still-young Raiders will quickly learn how they stack up. They travel to Bishop Manogue for the second regional game of the season on Dec. 6.
“There is going to be some growing pains for sure,” Schopper-Ramirez said. “The second game is at Manogue and that’s always going to be a growing (experience). That’s going to show us where we’re at and what we need to improve on … I think we’re going to have a learning curve early on, then hopefully work out the kinks.”
With so many returners, Reed’s coach largely knows what her team will already look like. There is plenty to be excited about for. That doesn’t mean her team is set.
“Ball movement on offense (needs to improve),” she said. “On defense, I want to pressure more. I want to pressure full court the majority of the time in games.”
The Raiders typically don’t load up their non-league schedule, but that’s changing this year. Reed went to Fresno over the weekend to scrimmage five Northern California teams, will go over the hill again Dec. 9-10, then hosts a holiday tournament Dec. 26-28.
That tournament experience may be valuable in February.
4A North Schedule
Nov. 29 vs Damonte Ranch
Dec. 6 at Bishop Manogue
Dec. 15 vs Carson
Dec. 16 vs Douglas
Jan. 3 at Wooster
Jan. 6 at Galena
Jan. 10 vs North Valleys
Jan. 13 at Reno
Jan. 17 at McQueen
Jan. 20 vs Hug
Jan. 24 at Spanish Springs
Jan. 27 at North Valleys
Jan. 31 vs Reno
Feb. 3 vs McQueen
Feb. 7 at Hug
Feb. 10 vs Spanish Springs