Sierra Schepple knew her team had broken a school record. What she didn’t know was just how big a hand she had in the accomplishment.
The Lane Community College women’s basketball team, when it beat Pierce 97-31 at the Raider Classic on Dec. 12 in Puyallup, drained a school-record 26 3-pointers. And Schepple? She made 12 of those, breaking the school’s individual single-game mark.
“I didn’t know the exact number I had in the game, but toward the end everyone was cheering for me,” said the Arlington High School graduate, who bested the record of 10 held by three players. “I know we broke the school record with 26, so I was proud of our team, but I had no idea I broke a record, too.”
Typically understated. But Schepple’s contributions to the Titans this season have been anything but. And she’s on the brink of leading Lane to the Northwest Athletic Conference championship.
The NWAC Championships take place Saturday and Sunday at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the campus of Everett Community College, and Schepple’s deadeye 3-point shooting is a big part of why Lane is considered the women’s favorite.
Lane, which faces Lower Columbia in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Saturday, is 28-0 and ranked No. 1 in the NWAC coaches poll. Schepple, despite coming off the bench, leads the Titans in scoring at 16.3 points per game, and she was recently named first-team All-South Region.
But the stats that pop off the page concern Schepple’s 3-point shooting. Schepple is converting a crazy 49.1% from 3-point range. And that isn’t on low volume, as she’s making 4.1 per game. Both numbers lead NWAC by a wide margin.
“We’ve had a lot of exceptional shooters over the years, and we have a few this year, but Sierra clearly stands out above the rest,” said Lane coach Greg Sheley. That’s high praise from a coach that’s led the Titans to five NWAC titles since 2006.
“Statistically she’s head and shoulders above anybody I’ve ever coached,” Sheley added. “She has a quick release, she has great footwork, and she puts in the time. It’s paid off for her.”
Schepple has always been a good perimeter shooter. She was a key markswoman on the Arlington team that took third at the 2020 Class 3A state tournament in Schepple’s senior season, and she knew she wanted to play at the next level.
However, there are a lot of community colleges located between Arlington and Eugene, Oregon, where Lane is located. What prompted Schepple to make the 330-mile journey for CC basketball, particularly during the height of the coronavirus pandemic?
“I researched beforehand, looking up records and game stats,” Schepple explained, saying Lane’s history was a big draw. “They had so much success and had so many players go on to the next division, I thought it would be a good stepping stone.
“I’m also very adventurous in my personality,” Schepple added. “This was stepping out of my comfort zone, I don’t have any family in Eugene or any connections. I thought it was would be good for my growth and for building relationships.”
Schepple reached out to Lane, then went down for a visit in early March of 2020 and to take in a game. Sheley watched some video of Schepple and liked what he saw, while Schepple approved of what she saw from the campus and what she heard from the coaches. A commitment was quickly reached, and Schepple became the rare player from Washington to play for Lane — she was one of two on the team last season and is the only one this season.
Schepple had an immediate impact at Lane, averaging 14.9 points during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, and she’s taken another step forward this season as she’s worked on her ball-handling and driving to give herself an added dimension. Though this is her second season at Lane, she still has first-year eligibility because of the pandemic, and she intends to use her extra year of eligibility to further showcase herself to four-year schools.
But before that she and the Titans have unfinished business: winning the NWAC championship.
“I think we have a really good chance,” Schepple said. “We come into every game knowing every team we played is going to put up a fight against us because of where we are in the standings. That’s really prepared us mentally and physically for games like these.”
Schepple’s presence on the team also means Lane has had a nice rooting section during the NWAC tournament. Schepple estimated she had about 20 family members in attendance at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center for last Saturday’s 96-81 victory over South Puget Sound in the round of 16 and last Sunday’s 99-55 victory over Spokane in the Elite Eight. She’s expecting a few more for this weekend’s games.
And with the way Schepple is knocking down 3s, her supporters should have plenty to cheer about.