By David Krueger Herald Writer
The Santa Clara women’s basketball team is creating a bit of a pipeline up in the Pacific Northwest.
For the third consecutive year, the West Coast Conference school has recruited one of the top players in Snohomish County. The Broncos latest addition: Everett High School star Sidney Rielly.
After her senior year, Rielly will join former Glacier Peak player Katie Hawkins and Archbishop Murphy’s Beth Carlson at Santa Clara.
“It’s a great educational school, and I wanted to go to school somewhere in California,” Rielly said. “The team is really up-and-coming team and they have a lot of good recruits coming in. Their class this year (which features Carlson) is a top-25 class.”
Rielly committed to the team while at an AAU tournament in Las Vegas the last week of May. She made it official on May 28th, tweeting, “So excited to officially be a Santa Clara Bronco!! #Basketball #Cali.”
The 6-foot wing/guard was being recruited by schools in the Pacific-12 conference, Western Athletic Conference and the WCC, including Santa Clara. She said she wanted to stay on the west coast, but head south where the weather was a little better.
“It’ll be a nice change,” Rielly said with a laugh. “I visited a month ago and they said it sprinkled like three times the whole year.”
Rielly talked to Hawkins, who praised the Santa Clara coaching staff, which has been recruiting Rielly for a couple years.
“She said the coaches are just such nice people and helped her get so much better in the time she’s been there,” Rielly said. “The coaches have been recruiting me for two to three years, so I’ve kind of gotten to know them over the course of time. They’re such nice people. A few years ago they had like a (four)-win season. (Head coach Jennifer Mountain) is such a great coach. Turned the program around in such a short time.”
Everett head coach John Low thinks that the versatile Rielly will be a great fit for the quick, up-tempo pace Santa Clara plays.
“I know they play up-tempo, so I think athletically she’s the kind of kid that will fit in an up-tempo system,” Low said. “Size-wise she’s really versatile. And skill-set wise, I’ve seen her play everything from guarding the other team’s center to their point guard on defense. And she has the ability to play center for us or go in as a six-foot point guard.”
During her junior season, Rielly averaged 23.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game while helping lead Everett win the 3A District 1 championship game and make it to the first round of the state playoffs for the first time since 1996.
“Every year her shot has improved,” Low said. “Every year I think, ‘OK, this is going to be the year someone figures out how to guard her.’ But she still scores. You think, ‘Wow. How did she get 21 (points) when they were playing such tough defense on her?’”
Rielly didn’t think she’d commit so early in the process — her junior year of high school doesn’t end until June 17 — but once she visited Santa Clara, she really liked the area and saw no reason to wait any longer.
“I had no plans on committing this early. I was planning on playing through my junior summer,” Rielly said. “I went down there and I couldn’t really ask for more. I came back and thought I’ll probably play and see how everything turns out. I talked about it with my family and was like nothing better’s going to come. It’s a beautiful place to live. There’s great coaches. It’s a great school.”
With her commitment already out of the way, Rielly won’t have to worry if an off game will impact her future. She can focus on helping Everett repeat as district champions and get even farther in the state tournament.
“I’ve had friends that have waited to commit till late in their senior season. It’s so stressful,” Rielly said. “Every game I still want to play my best, but it’s not so pressure-filled where if I don’t have a great game, it’s not like, ‘Oh no!’”
Low agrees with Rielly and is hoping that with her future resolved, she can have fun in her last season at Everett.
“I just hope she goes out and plays and is able to enjoy it. I think that’s one of the things that I think will be good that she made her decision early,” Low said. “Every year she’s improved season to season, and it’s setting the bar pretty high asking her to improve again, but I think she’s capable of that.”
The Seagulls graduate three seniors from last year’s team — including starters and four-year varsity players Kiki Harper and Rosie Sittauer. Low said those are going to be two big losses, but added that Everett has “a great core group coming back,” including Sidney’s sister, sophomore Darian Rielly.
He hopes the team can once again cut down some nets.
“We’d love if that were to happen again,” Low said. “We understand it’s a hard road to get back there and there’s going to be a lot of good teams. But I think we’re looking forward to the opportunity and we’re just going to go out and play the season and see if we can put ourselves in an opportunity to repeat.”
Low doesn’t foresee Rielly letting up even though her future beyond Everett has now been sorted out.
“Sidney’s the type of kid, she doesn’t rest on what she’s done,” Low said. “She’s one of those kids that puts in the time. She’ll be an asset at Santa Clara. She’s not going to be the type to sit back and say, ‘OK, I have a scholarship now. I can relax a little.’”