By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Lauren Reed keeps a picture of Sherando's girls basketball banner as a background on her cell phone. Before the season started, the Sherando freshman took a picture of it to remind herself of the goals the team wanted to accomplish.
"I just use it as motivation," Reed said. "You look at your phone a lot. Every time I look at my phone it reminds me that's one of the things this team wanted to accomplish this year -- to add another number to that banner."
There was only one number on that banner before the season started -- 1997, that's the only time Sherando had won a district title. Now the number 2013 will be added after the Warriors won the district title this season.
That motivation to help the program succeed and add to its history is part of the reason Reed knew she had to do something when the Warriors were losing to Skyline on Feb. 1.
Sherando trailed 21-17 at the half to the Hawks, and Reed and her teammates were all struggling to make shots. Reed, The Northern Virginia Daily's 2012-13 Co-Girls Basketball Player of the Year, came out and hit her first shot in the second half -- a 3-pointer -- and didn't stop making shots. Not only did she score 26 points in the second half, but she was assisting her teammates, and grabbing every rebound in sight.
"We needed to step up," Reed said. "A lot was on the line. We wanted to put those numbers up, and if we didn't step up in that second half that would have never happened."
The season couldn't have started off any better for Reed than it did in the first two games. She scored 38 points and 33 points in her first two high school games.
Quickly teams became aware of how strong her game was and began using different junk defenses designed to slow her game down.
Kevin Reed, her father and Sherando's coach, said it was frustrating for her at times.
"There were a couple times she said, 'Why couldn't this happen in my sophomore or junior year?'" Reed said. "'Why can't I go a whole year without this?' She also understood that it's part of the game. Pressure will either do two things to you -- it will either make you a diamond or it will break you. She wasn't willing to be broken, so I respect that and the effort she put into it."
Kevin Reed also found ways to take advantage of how teams were defending her. In the Northwestern District tournament final against Millbrook, the Pioneers used a box-and-one against her, while also having another player ready to double her if she touched the ball.
The Warriors used Lauren Reed as a decoy, and ran everything away from her, allowing her teammates to step up and make plays.
Lauren Reed didn't make a single basket in the game, but hit six free throws, all in the fourth quarter, to help seal the win for Sherando.
"She ran all night in that district tournament championship game," Kevin Reed said. "And at halftime she was frustrated and I said to her, 'You may not score tonight, but we're going to get this championship.' This is a team sport. And she accepted that and she went out in the second half and just continued to work hard and it didn't affect her defense, it didn't affect her rebounding. She did what she needed to do to help the team win, and when her time came in the fourth quarter she knocked down all six free throws to keep us in front."
Lauren Reed averaged 18.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.1 steals per game. She also led the area with a 79.7 percent free-throw percentage (118 for 148).
One of the things that stands out about Lauren Reed is her 3-point shooting.
She shot 35 percent (64 for 183) from outside the arc, and made nine 3-pointers in her first game of the season.
Kevin Reed said Lauren and her younger sister, Erika, both have great shooting form because of a game they played when they were younger which helps teach proper shooting form.
Lauren Reed said her favorite moment of the season was completing six four-point plays.
"Those were exciting," Lauren Reed said. "And normally Erin Magalis would be the one making the pass to me, just watching her facial expressions after she did it ... she'd come running over screaming and going nuts. It was thrilling. I don't expect it, half the times I never even got to see the ball go in. I would just hear everyone and then my teammates would tell me and it was just really exciting."
An aspect of her game that improved throughout the season was her rebounding. After a slow start in that area, she began to rebound more and more as the season went on and said she began to like doing it.
Lauren Reed also played Amateur Athletic Union basketball last year for the Loudoun Triple Threat, a team also coached by her dad. She said playing AAU ball definitely helped prepare her for high school basketball.
While she wants to keep improving her own game, Lauren Reed said she wants the team to keep improving as well and continue to add more numbers to the banner in Sherando's gym.
"It was definitely tough at times, but now that you look back at it you see all the great things we accomplished," Lauren Reed said of Sherando's season. "And then you just think about the fact that no one's leaving. We're all coming back. We're all getting better."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org