Raigan Reed entered this winter with extra motivation.
The Lake Stevens High School girls basketball standout was coming off a challenging junior season, which ended in disappointment after her youth-laden Vikings succumbed to injuries and inexperience last year with an early postseason exit.
“It motivated me a lot, because I really underperformed my junior year,” she said. “And I knew that I had it in me to do way more than that.”
Fueled by her perceived shortcomings the previous season, Reed capped her decorated Lake Stevens career in style.
The Boise State University signee compiled a dynamic all-around campaign, averaging 19.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game. She broke a school record with eight made 3-pointers in a win over Monroe.
But more importantly, she rose to the occasion when needed most, leading the young Vikings through the cutthroat Class 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament and into the state regionals.
For her standout season, Reed is The Herald’s 2020 Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“I know she was tremendously motivated, especially with the conclusion of our season last year,” Lake Stevens coach Randy Edens said. “And really from that point on and throughout (this) season, she just was a different player. That motivation level was at an all-time high, … and it showed out on the court.”
Reed, a 5-foot-7 guard, showcased her elite talent ever since entering the Vikings’ program as a freshman. She was a four-year starter for Lake Stevens and averaged double-figure scoring all four seasons, frustrating opposing defenses with her smooth shooting stroke, polished ball-handling and next-level athleticism.
“There’s times where she can just make bucket after bucket after bucket,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hill said. “She’s really, really tough to guard. … She’s just very well-rounded.”
Reed spent her first two years in high school playing alongside standout forward Kylee Griffen, who is now part of the Gonzaga University women’s basketball program. But after Griffen graduated, Reed was tasked with leading an unusually young team.
As a junior, Reed was surrounded by a slew of freshman teammates. This season, she played with four sophomore starters.
“She knew she needed to be really, really good,” Edens said, “and there were gonna come times that we needed to lean on her and she had to kind of carry us with her play.”
Reed rose to the occasion with a handful of massive performances in the clutch, especially early in the season when her young teammates were still gaining their footing.
In their season opener, the Vikings faced a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit against eventual third-place 3A state placer Arlington. Reed rallied Lake Stevens to victory by scoring 12 points in the final period, including a go-ahead three-point play with 17 seconds remaining.
In the following game, Reed netted 21 of her 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Vikings past Edmonds-Woodway.
The most jaw-dropping performance came in a non-league showdown against Eastlake on Dec. 30, when Reed almost single-handedly erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit. She scored an astounding 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime — including four 3-pointers — to carry the Vikings past the defending 4A state champion.
“She just put us on her back,” Edens said. “… That (stretch) there in the fourth and then certainly in overtime, she was incredible.”
But at the same time, Reed made it an added priority this season to involve her young teammates and allow them to develop. Her growth as a distributor this year was her biggest improvement, Edens said, and it ultimately paid major dividends.
“I think you kind of saw the fruits of that labor — both for her individually as a player and then certainly for us collectively as a team,” Edens said. “… All of (her teammates) improved their ability to score. And that kind of shows the sign of a true leader — that you have faith in your teammates that they’re gonna be able to respond in kind.
“She certainly did that. And then at the same time, it complemented her game that much more too, because (opponents) couldn’t just focus on trying to take her away.”
The Vikings (19-6) opened the 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament with an overtime loss to Eastlake in the quarterfinals, which placed them on the verge of elimination.
“Last year, it was awful to end the season like two weeks earlier than (other teams), so it was really motivating to know that (it) could possibly be our last game together,” Reed said. “The team grew a lot of chemistry throughout the year, and we didn’t want the season to end.”
With their backs against the wall, Reed and her teammates bounced back with three consecutive victories over talented KingCo 4A squads.
Lake Stevens won back-to-back elimination games against Mount Si and Inglemoor to secure a state regional berth, then capped its bi-district run by beating Issaquah in the third-place game.
Reed scored 20-plus points in all three contests, but also received significant contributions from her teammates.
“It was just like the most rewarding feeling to be able to come together as a team and overcome all the adversity that we’ve gone through together,” Reed said. “… It was really cool to see our team grow like that and get as far as we did.”
The Vikings suffered a season-ending loss to Camas in the state regionals, falling one win short of advancing to the Tacoma Dome for the Hardwood Classic.
But reaching the regional round was a major accomplishment in itself, considering the loaded bi-district Lake Stevens had to navigate. Each of the other three state regional qualifiers from the Wes-King bi-district went on to earn top-four state trophies.
“That three-game stretch (in the bi-district tournament) was pretty spectacular,” Edens said, “just for the sake of what our young group has gone through for these couple of years, and then to kind of break through that door.
“(It was a) pretty drastic year of improvement and success along the way,” he added. “And certainly (Raigan) was a big part of that.”
After completing an exceptional high school career, Reed now turns her attention to playing NCAA Division I basketball at Boise State. She’s following in the footsteps of twin sisters Brooke and Brittney Pahukoa, who starred at Lake Stevens before playing at Boise State from 2013 to 2017.
Prior to March Madness being canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, Boise State was poised to make its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and its fifth in the past six seasons.
“They’ve got a program that’s kind of set the standard for the Mountain West Conference, and so I know for her that’s an exciting opportunity and challenge,” Edens said. “She’s gonna be such a great fit.
“With as much as her game has developed here in the past calendar year, I’m pretty confident there’s some Pac-12 schools that might be kicking themselves a little bit they didn’t hang around and stick with Raigan, because she’s gonna be a dynamite type of player for Boise State here in years to come.”